When the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund or DFB) was formed in Leipzig in 1900, there were just 86 clubs. By 2016, that number had swollen to 25,000 with nine million members. The DFB is the biggest association in the German Sports Union and one of UEFA's largest member associations in terms of membership.
Continuity has always been a feature of the DFB. In its first 110 years of existence, there had been only ten presidents and ten national coaches. The main breakthrough on the field came in 1954 when the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) became world champions in Switzerland under coach Sepp Herberger. Germany would lift the FIFA World Cup trophy on three further occasions. In 1974 a host nation captained by Franz Beckenbauer and coached by Helmut Schön defeated the Netherlands in the final. Then, in 1990 in Italy, coach Beckenbauer's men pipped Argentina to glory. Finally, Germany were triumphant again in Brazil in 2014, under Joachim Löw, beating the Argentinians 1-0 in the final.
Germany have also been runners-up in four World Cups. Schön's team lost to the hosts in 1966 in England; Italy overcame Jupp Derwall's charges at España 82; Beckenbauer and company were thwarted by Argentina in Mexico in 1986; and Brazil denied Rudi Völler's squad in Korea/Japan 2002. Additionally, Jürgen Klinsmann's side finished third at the 2006 tournament on home soil, as did Löw's in South Africa four years later. To these achievements can be added three UEFA European Championship titles, won in 1972 under Schön, in 1980 under Derwall, and in 1996 with Berti Vogts in charge.
The honours list of Germany's women's team is equally impressive. They have been European champions eight times – in 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 – under the tutelage of Gero Bisanz, Tina Theune-Meyer and, as of 2005, Silvia Neid. The FIFA Women's World Cup, a tournament the country successfully staged in 2011, has been landed twice, in 2003 and 2007, in addition to a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and bronze medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008. The men's team won silver at the Rio Games.
The DFB's youth development work is also reaping a rich harvest. In summer 2009, Germany held, for a space of 35 days, all three UEFA junior male titles. The association was rewarded for those exploits – in the U21, U19 and U17 UEFA European Championships – with the Maurice Burlaz Trophy, UEFA's foremost youth football award. Similarly, the nation's best young female players claimed the FIFA Women's U-20 World Cup in 2004, 2010 and 2014.
On the club front, FC Bayern München have been the most successful team, boasting 44 domestic trophies – 26 league championships and 18 national cups. The Bavarians have also collected the European Champion Clubs' Cup three times and the UEFA Champions League twice. Moreover, the team have won the European Cup Winners' Cup, the UEFA Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup once each. Two European/South American Cups also embellish the picture.
The Federal League or Bundesliga, German football's highest club category, was founded in 1963, heralding the introduction of professionalism. The Bundesliga has since become a top brand. In 2000 a league association (Deutsche Fussball-Liga or DFL) was established, meaning that, for the first time in 100 years of DFB history, professional football had its own independent organisational structure under the DFB umbrella. This move helped preserve the unity of the German game, as decisions on all matters, national or international, continued to be taken jointly. The link between professional and amateur football was also consolidated.
Another significant event was the DFB's merger with the German Football Association (DFV) of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The DFV had been an independent UEFA member from 1954, with its finest hour coming with Olympic gold in Montreal in 1976 under coach Georg Buschner. The reunification of footballers from east and west took place in 1990 in Leipzig, cradle of the DFB. Stadium attendances and television ratings provide constant reminders that the united Germany – successful hosts of the 2006 World Cup – is a complete football country.
Date of birth: 30 November 1950
Association president since: 2012
• Wolfgang Niersbach started his career as a journalist for the sports news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID), and covered football and ice hockey at several FIFA World Cups, UEFA European Championships and Olympic Games. He then accepted an offer from the German Football Association (DFB) to work as head of the press office for EURO '88 in Germany.
• Having headed the DFB's press office for many years, he then moved on to become managing vice-president of the local organising committee (LOC) for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. In October 2007, he was elected as DFB general secretary, succeeding Horst R Schmidt. Niersbach lives in his native Dreieich near Frankfurt, and is also a keen tennis player.
• The new DFB president emphasised cooperation between professional football and the grassroots as the foundation for the game's successful development. "The national team is the best example to all of us how professional and amateur football complement each other and can profit from each other. And they show how integration and a tolerant togetherness can be self-evident. My wish is that this example can work as a role model for the entire game." Niersbach was re-elected for a further three years in October 2013. A UEFA Executive Committee member since 2013, he was elected to the FIFA Executive Committee as a European member at the XXXIX Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna on 24 March 2015.
Date of birth: 15 December 1956
Association general secretary since: 2012
• Helmut Sandrock is a former German youth international who was chairman at MSV Duisburg from 2000 to 2002. Later, he became a member of the founding board of the German Football League (DFL), and then a board member of the same organisation.
• Starting in 2003, he worked as tournament director of the FIFA World Cup 2006 for the German Football Association (DFB), and became chief executive at FC Salzburg following the World Cup finals. In 2008, he returned to the DFB as director of match operations and was instrumental in the introduction of a nationwide third division.
• Sandrock has also made himself a name on the international stage: In 2006 and 2007, he was general coordinator for the FIFA Club World Cup and fulfilled the same function at the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup in South Africa, in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Since 2012, he has been general secretary at the DFB, and is also a UEFA integrity officer.