Dear friends and friends of football,
A year of decisions lies ahead of us. We have the chance to make history in Russia and we want to be the first Germany team to win the title twice in a row. This mission will be even more difficult than our triumph in Brazil back in 2014. Head coach Joachim Löw was spot on when he said as the champions and winners of the Confed-Cup, the other teams will be particularly out to beat us. For us, that means giving it everything we have in each match, not just physically but also mentally.
It is also correct that our competitors have stepped up their game once again. Brazil have a more balanced squad today than they did four years ago and the Seleção are no longer a one-man team around Neymar. Spain have found their old strengths once again. We saw in the November internationals that England and France will provide serious competition. I also believe that Belgium will be a threat, and obviously you cannot write off Argentina at the World Cup with Lionel Messi in their side.
In this year of decisions, there will also be the vote by UEFA as to who will host EURO 2024, the results of which we will find out at the end of September. I am certain that our EURO-team of Markus Stenger and Jürgen Eißmann, together with our colleagues in the DFB and the authorities with whom we are partners, are working hard to put together an appealing bid. The process took on a whole new dynamic recently as we gained Philipp Lahm to be our ambassador for the tournament, an ideal person. It is especially nice that he has taken up this position with a huge a highly-deserved award, DFB honorary captain.
Moreover, we want to start 2018 by building a new DFB and its affiliated academy. We also received a very strong signal from the Bundestag in favour of this. The unanimous vote by delegates was a clear sign of the unity we have over football in Germany. I would like to emphasise once again that the new construction is a project equally weighted for elite sportspersons and grassroots competitors. That is because the fruits of the work from the academy will also be available to those playing at grassroots level. And of course it is absolutely fundamental that the better our clubs do, the stronger we will become at grassroots level as well as when our top players compete at a high level with the national team and are successful. Children and young people strive to be like their role models and arrive at our clubs with that drive. This is about improving this cycle.
Part of setting the course for 2018 involves our women’s national team qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France. The comfortable 4-0 victory over France has given is more confidence. All the sporting heads at the DFB with Horst Hrubesch and Oliver Bierhoff will support head coach Steffi Jones as best we can to help us all achieve our goals. It is about making sure that our women are not viewed as a less significant team and we all need to make that clear.
We have made a lot happen and aim to do more. 2017 was an intense year and 2018 will be no less intense. It is all the more important to get some rest over the holidays, to switch off a bit and build up our strength. Dear friends and friends of football, I wish you all a very happy New Year and some relaxing time with your families.