Article by Konstantin Meyer zu Brickwedde
German football has a great new team, RB Leipzig. RB Leipzig has climbed up from the 5th division of German football to the first division in a span of seven years, but most German fans are not surprised by this. That is because they are backed by an Austrian energy drink company called “Red Bull” that has pumped millions of euros into the club. RB Leipzig has used the money efficiently and become a superpower in German football; however, many fans do not like this development.
Red Bull has been prominent in the world of football for a while now. It owns five teams around the world and has worked to make each of them into a powerful team in their own countries. Their entry into the world of football came when they bought SV Austria Salzburg in 2005 and renamed the team FC Red Bull Salzburg. Currently FC Red Bull Salzburg are the champions of the Austrian Bundesliga (Austrian first division). The following year Red Bull bought a team in the US league and renamed them New York Red Bull. They then founded a team in Brazil and a team in Ghana. Red Bull’s most recent football team is Rasen Ballsport Leipzig.
On June 13th 2009, Red Bull bought the rights to play in the Öber Liga (German 5th division) from SSV Markranstadt for what is believed to be €350,000 (Ruf). However, one of the rules to join the Öber Liga was that each team needs to have four certified junior teams. Red Bull bought all the junior teams from FC Sachsen Leipzig (Ruf) who were suffering financially. Red Bull then registered Rasen Ballsport Leipzig to be in the Öber Liga for the 2009 – 2010 season. Within 7 seasons RB Leipzig worked their way up to the Bundesliga (German first division). Last season, playing in the Bundesliga for the first time, they finished in second place behind FC Bayern Munich. This success allowed them to qualify for the European Champions League.
In Germany many fans dislike RB Leipzig because it finds loopholes in the rules that make German football unique. One rule is that in Germany a team can not be named after a company unless it has been owned by that company for 20 years (Holden). Red Bull wanted to name their team after themselves, but instead had to name the team Rasen Ballsport Leipzig. However, it abbreviates to RB Leipzig, which is Red Bull abbreviated. One of the most important rules in Germany is that majority of a club’s shares must be owned by the fans (Holden). This rule prevents foreign investors from completely taking over a team and controlling them without help from the fans. RB Leipzig is technically fan owned however the requirements to become a member of the club is harder compared to other German clubs. RB Leipzig only has 17 voting members (Mansel), all of whom are current Red Bull employees. Meanwhile another team in the Bundesliga, Dortmund, has 139,000 voting members. The reason why there are so few voting members at Leipzig is because of the high membership prices. Usually the membership fee is about 30-60 euro but in RB Leipzig’s case it costs 1000 euro to become a member. Many German football fans believe that breaking this rule takes the soul out of German football since many people feel that a football club is like a community instead of a business, which is how RB Leipzig is being run.
Even though many people dislike RB Leipzig, it has done some good for German football. Firstly, it has invested greatly in youth development (Holden). It has produced some great players, most notably Joshua Kimmich (current German national team starter). Not only is the youth training facilities good, but also the club give youth players an opportunity to play in the top division of football. One such player is Timo Werner. Before going to RB Leipzig he was at a Bundesliga team but never got a chance to play. He was then bought by Leipzig and became its first choice attacker. Last year he scored 21 goals in the Bundesliga which made him the 4th top goal scorer in the whole league. He has also played well for the German national team. In the Confederations Cup of summer 2017 he was top goal scorer and led Germany to win the whole cup. RB Leipzig has also brought Bundesliga football back to eastern Germany. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1990 teams from the east of Germany never really flourished. The last team to be in the Bundesliga was Cutbus who were in it during the 2008/09 season (Glendenning). However with the introduction of RB Leipzig the east now has a team to cheer for. RB Leipzig has also made the Bundesliga competitive. Bayern Munich has won the last five Bundesliga titles and have dominated the league, but RB Leipzig, who has the money to keep up with them, has now challenged Bayern Munich to make the league more interesting. Many German football fans dislike RB Leipzig, however it is indisputable that RB Leipzig has helped Germany football progress.
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