It’s been seven years since the German national football team (of the men – you always have to say that today) was officially given a new name: “The team”. It was the heyday of product marketing and the memory of winning the World Cup in Brazil the year before was still fresh. Oliver Bierhoff, the team manager at the time and now the director of national teams, was of the opinion that “The Team” contained everything that the team stood for: “Creativity, playing strength, respect, fair play, and also for cohesion, team spirit and unity”. That was PR bullshit, of course.
What is true, however, is that “The Team” transports more emotions and more myth than the more technical and general term “national team”. But at the DFB there are increasing doubts as to whether the renaming was a good decision. They are considering calling the team “national team” again in the future.
The analysis at that time was correct. No team from the major football countries calls itself a “national team”. In Brazil it is the “Selecao”, in Italy the “Squadra Azzurra”, in France the “Equipe Tricolore” and in England it is the “Three Lions”. The Spaniards call their selection “La Furia Roja”, the Dutch say “Elftal”, in Belgium it is the “Rode Duivels/Diables Rouges”.
Why not choose a special name for the German national soccer team as well? In fact, it is quite common today, at least in England and Ireland, to speak of “The Crew”.
The problem with “The Team” was that after the introduction of the term, there was no sporting success, that the national team lost popularity, to which the DFB itself contributed, for example by increasing ticket prices and hardly holding any public training sessions. The national team was considered lifted. That’s where the DFB has to start.
And if the team under the new head coach Hansi Flick continues to win like they did recently, the fans might be happy to talk about the “team” again. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s called “national team” or “DFB selection” in the future, whether the commentators are talking about “four-time world champions” or “Hansi’s boys”. The word of the Ruhrpott footballer Alfred “Adi” Preißler applies: It’s crucial on the pitch.