What is Bundesliga?
A professional association football league in Germany with the highest average stadium attendance worldwide
Founded: 1962 (first season started in 1963)
Number of Teams: 18
The Bundesliga is a German professional football league. There are eighteen teams competing at the top tier of the competition in a season.
Clubs are ranked according to the points earned during the entire season and the bottom-placed teams are relegated to the second tier football league referred to as 2. Bundesliga (second Bundesliga). The top teams in the 2. Bundesliga are then promoted to replace the relegated ones in the next competition.
History and Origin
The Bundesliga was founded in 1962 by the Deutscher Fußball-Bund (German Football Association) and the first season of the competition was held the following year. Earlier on, German football was typically played at an amateur level where champions were determined through play-off matches between the winners of local tournaments.
The German Football Association, in existence since 1900, pushed for the formation of the league as a response to the numerous calls urging the introduction of professionalism in the sport within the region. It was also a move to curb the exit by talented players from the unprofessional and semi-professional regional leagues to other countries across Europe with established professional leagues.
There were five competitive leagues at the time of formation, representing the North, South, West, South West and Berlin regions of West Germany. Sixteen teams made it to the inaugural 1963-64 season which saw 1. FC Koln emerge as the first German club champions. On the other hand, East Germany ran a separate league formed earlier in 1950 called the DDR-Liga or DDR-Oberliga.
Competitiveness developed gradually in the end of 1960’s and the 70s saw remarkable talents from the region play at international levels, the likes of Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Jupp Heynckes and Paul Breitner, considered to be in the list of the best football players ever regardless of their playing positions. Rivalries between clubs like Bayern Munich and Bayern Monchengladbach arose, with the former moving on to dominate in the 80s.
The competition has undergone different changes related to participation and the level of competition in the sport. Nonetheless, it faced a fair share of challenges in its development though the competition has turned out to be a success over the 52 years of its existence. Currently, the Bundesliga is one of the strongest football professional leagues in the world, coming third according to UEFA’s leagues ranking.
The league has undergone notable development over the decades which make it unique in various aspects. For instance, Bundesliga has managed to surpass other prominent leagues in terms of the highest average attendance, an achievement largely attributed to the low ticket prices that fans are charged.
Structure and Competition
The Deutsche Fußball Liga (German Football League) took over from the German Football Association in 2000 to run the Bundesliga. A season of the competition starts in August and runs until May, with a winter break between December and January. Each club plays two matches against every other club at the competition, one at home and the other away. Three points are awarded to the winner, zero points for the losing team and one point for each side in the case of a draw. The teams are ranked as per the number of points garnered over the whole season and the team with most points is the champion of the competition.
The top three teams qualify automatically for UEFA Champions League, but the forth team goes through a qualifying round to book a place at the Group Stages of the esteemed tournament. Tie breakers are commonly used in the rankings with the goal difference and total goals scored in the entire season being the key benchmarks.
The bottom two teams are automatically relegated to the 2. Bundesliga and the top two teams in the second tier competition replace them. The third last team competes in a two- leg playoff with the third best team in the 2. Bundesliga and the winner takes part in the subsequent Bundesliga tournament.
Football clubs in Germany taking part at the professional level have first to acquire a license, which is dependent on how financially stable the club is among other standards set by the governing body. 53 teams have played in the Bundesliga since its inception. East Germany joined the competition in October 1990 after the German reunification and participated in the 1991-92 season. No club from East Germany has managed to win the Bundesliga to date.
Most German clubs have earned international praise and attention. FC Bayern Munich is the most successful team in the Bundesliga having won 24 titles. Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach come in at a distant second with five titles. Other well-known clubs are Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, Hamburger SV, VfB Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen.
Players with most appearances in Bundesliga
1.) Karl-Heinz Körbel (Eintracht Frankfurt, 1972-1991) - 602 games
2.) Manfred Kaltz (Hamburger SV, 1971-1991) - 581 games
3.) Oliver Khan (Karlsruher SC, FC Bayern Munich, 1987-2008) - 557 games
4.) Klaus Fichtel (FC Schalke 04, SV Werder Bremen, 1965-1988) - 552 games
5.) Miroslav Votava (Borussia Dortmund, SV Werder Bremen, 1976–1996) - 546 games
6.) Klaus Fischer (TSV 1860 München, FC Schalke 04, 1. FC Köln, VfL Bochum, 1968–1988) - 535 games
7.) Eike Immel (Borussia Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart, 1978–1995) - 534 games
8.) Willi Neuberger (Borussia Dortmund, SV Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt, 1966-1983) - 520 games
9.) Michael Lameck (VfL Bochum, 1972-1988) - 518 games
10.) Uli Stein (Hamburger SV, 1978-1997) - 512 games