Sport in Germany

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Allianz Arena in Munich, venue for the 2006 FIFA World Cup opening game

Sport is an important part of German culture and society. In 2006 about 27.5 million people were members of the more than 91,000 sport clubs in Germany. Almost all sports clubs are represented by the Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund (DOSB, German Olympic Sports Federation).

With a total of 26,000 clubs and 178,000 teams the German Football Association (DFB) is the largest individual body in the DOSB.

Sport is financed by means of state funding and state contributions, voluntary service, private sponsors and membership fees.

Olympics

In the all-time Olympic Games medal count through 2006 Germany ranks fifth, East Germany seventh and West Germany twenty-first. If all the medals are combined Germany ranks third.

Germany has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in Berlin in 1936 and in Munich in 1972. Germany hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1936 when they were staged in the Bavarian twin towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen.

Germany claimed the most gold medals and the most total medals during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Football

The German national football team lining up against Austria in 2011. The national sport of Germany is football.

Germany's top level football league, known as the Bundesliga, has one of the highest average attendances of any professional sports league in the world. As of the 2010–11 season, the Bundesliga is placed third in UEFA rankings, which are based on the performance of clubs in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. [1]

Football in Germany is (like in most European countries) the number one attended and practiced sport. Besides the national league, the Euro cup and the FIFA World Cup has much attention among its population.

Bayern Munich (German: Bayern München) is the most successful German football club, with 24 national championships, 16 National Cups and 5 European Champions titles (three European Cups and 2 Champions Leagues) to its credit. Like many other German football clubs, Bayern Munich is a multi-sport club.

Franz Beckenbauer's Jersey in 1977

The German national football team is one of the traditional powers of international football. It won the FIFA World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and the European Football Championship in 1972 and 1980 as West Germany and in 1996 as Germany. Gerd Müller is the leading goal scorer for the national team with 68 goals, but his fame is perhaps eclipsed by that of Franz Beckenbauer who is one of the few men in the world who have won the World Cup both as a coach and a player. Germany also hosted the World Cup in 1974 and 2006, finishing third in 2006 after losing a close semi-final contest to eventual cup winners Italy.

The women's national team is also a world power, with its wins of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2003 and 2007, making Germany the only nation to win both the men's and women's World Cup and European titles – a rarity for a nation where the center of attention is usually the men's game. Women have their own Bundesliga, but it is semi-professional and does not command the fan support the men's competitions do. Germany hosted the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Ice hockey

Main Article: Ice hockey in Germany

Ice hockey is one of Germany's most popular sports, although considering its importance and spectator popularity in the nation it is ranked far behind football. There are many leagues but the top one is the 14 team Deutsche Eishockey Liga. The Germany men's national ice hockey team features NHL players such as Christian Ehrhoff, Jochen Hecht, Dennis Seidenberg, Thomas Greiss, Dominik Kahun, Dominik Kubalik, Marcel Goc and Marco Sturm and NHL prospects like Alexander Sulzer, Philip Gogulla, Korbinian Holzer and Marcel Müller. The men's national team is currently ranked 9th in the world.

In 2010, Mannheim and Cologne co-hosted the Ice Hockey World Championships. Germany defeated the USA in the opening game in front of a record breaking crowd of 77,803 in Gelsenkirchen's Veltins-Arena. Germany finished the tournament in fourth place, the nation's best finish since 1953. German goaltender Dennis Endras was named the tournament's top goaltender by the IIHF directors and the top goaltender and most valuable player by the media.1

Basketball

Together with football, ice hockey and handball, basketball in Germany is among the most popular spectator sports.

One of the most popular non-football athletes to come out of Germany is Dirk Nowitzki, who plays power forward for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA. In 2007, he became the first player trained totally outside the U.S. to be named league MVP, and in 2011 led the Mavericks to their first NBA title.

The German national basketball team's biggest successes are the victory in the European Championship of 1993 at home in Germany, the silver medal in the 2005 European Championships and the bronze medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championship.

Handball

Kronau-Oestringen.jpg

Handball is the most popular team sport and evolved historically in Germany.] Germany is regarded as the birthplace of handball. The first match of the modern era was officially recorded on 29 October 1917 in Berlin, Germany. Outdoor Handball had its only Olympic Games appearance in the XIth Olympiad (1936 Berlin Games). The first international match recorded was played on 3 September 1925 with Germany and Austria.

Today handball is a major team sport being played and watched in all of Germany. The German Handball Bundesliga is considered to be the most competitive professional league in the world. As a spectator sport it ranks popular in smaller cities around the country and draws attention comparable to other indoor sports such as ice hockey or basketball.

The Germany national handball team is the national handball team of Germany. Germany won the handball world cup in 1938, 1978 and in 2007 as the host of the handball world cup.

Motorsport

Michael Schumacher has claimed 91 race victories and 7 championships in his F1 career.

Germany is one of the leading motorsports countries in the world. While countless race winning cars have come from Germany, only Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel have been Formula One world champions (they have won 11 titles combined). One other German driver came close to winning the title: Wolfgang Von Trips. Unfortunately, he died in a crash in the last race of the season at Monza in 1961, giving the championship to his Ferrari team mate Phil Hill.

Schumacher has won more Formula One championships and races than any other driver since the Formula One world championship began in 1950. In 2003, Schumacher set a new record for driver's championships when he surpassed Juan Manuel Fangio's total of 5 championships, a record that had stood for 46 years since 1957. He is also the highest paid athlete in sports history, with an annual salary of some U.S. $70 million from the Ferrari team, and an estimated $25–30 million more coming from endorsements. In 2005, he became the world's first billionaire athlete, according to Eurobusiness magazine. He is regarded as one of the greatest drivers of all time; when he first retired at the end of the 2006 season, he held 7 championships and every significant F1 record. He returned to F1 in 2010, celebrated his completion of 20 years in F1 in August 2011, and retired for a second time at the end of the 2012 season.

In 2010, Vettel became the youngest driver ever to win the world championship, he also successfully defended the title in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Before winning his first F1 drivers' championship, Vettel had already been the youngest ever to drive at a Grand Prix meeting, earn F1 world championship points, start from pole position in an F1 race, and finish as runner-up for the drivers' championship.

The DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) is the national touring car series. It is considered one of the best touring car series in the world. Many Formula 1 drivers have made the switch to the series, including, Mika Häkkinen, Jean Alesi and others. From 1995, only German marques of cars are allowed to compete in the series. Currently only Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz compete, but Opel and Alfa Romeo have a history in the sport. The races are held mainly in Germany, but some races occur elsewhere in Europe. The races draw monster crowds and TV ratings and many celebrities have attended race days.

The 24 hours of Le Mans is a prestigious annual race held in France. Porsche has won the race 16 times, far more than any other constructor. Second on the list is Audi, who have dominated the race in recent years, scoring 11 wins since their first in the year 2000.

Wintersports

Magdalena Neuner, biathlon athlete.

Germany is one of the most successful wintersport nations. Its dominance in sledding disciplines can be attributed to it being the only country in the world to have four bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton tracks. These tracks are located in Altenberg, Königssee, Oberhof, and Winterberg.

Germany has long been dominant in the sport of Bobsledding having won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other nation except Switzerland. However, if medal wins by East Germany and West Germany from 1949 through 1990 are combined, Germany's medal count is nearly double that of Switzerland. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, André Lange piloted both the two-man and four-man sleds to gold, sweeping the men's bobsledding events.

In luge, Germany has also been dominant, stretching from luge's foundation in the early 20th century with dominance in the European championships to the Winter Olympics. Noted lugers include Georg Hackl, Klaus Bonsack, Margit Schumann, David Möller, Silke Kraushaar-Pielach, Sylke Otto, and Tatjana Hüfner. Of 117 Olympic Medals Germany won 70!

In skeleton, Germany has been dominant with the likes of Kerstin Jürgens and Anja Huber.

Biathlon has become one of the most popular winter sports in Germany in recent years.2 Germany has won 59 Olympic medals in biathlon, more than any other nation, and is the joint most successful nation in terms of Olympic golds won, with Germany and Russia having won 20 golds each. Some of Germany's most successful biathletes include Frank-Peter Roetsch, Michael Greis, Sven Fischer and Ricco Groß among the men and Uschi Disl, Andrea Henkel, Kati Wilhelm and Magdalena Neuner among the women.

Tobias Angerer has enjoyed success in cross-country skiing, winning consecutive overall FIS Cross-Country World Cups in 2005/06 and 2006/07.

Germany has produced a number of top ski jumpers. Jens Weißflog is Germany's most successful ski jumper and was one of the top competitors in the world from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Other notable athletes include Hans-Georg Aschenbach, Sven Hannawald and Martin Schmitt. Two of the four rounds of the prestigious Four Hills Tournament are held on German hills, at Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

German athletes have been competitive in Nordic combined. Title-winning competitors include Georg Thoma, Ulrich Wehling, Hermann Weinbuch, Ronny Ackermann and Eric Frenzel.

Germany has enjoyed great success in alpine skiing, although the most successful German alpine skiers have tended to be female. One notable male alpine skier was Markus Wasmeier. Rosi Mittermaier, Katja Seizinger and Maria Höfl-Riesch have won multiple world-level titles on the women's circuit.

In speed skating Germany has been a major power, particularly in women's competition. Four of the five most prolific winners in the women's ISU Speed Skating World Cup are German - Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, Jenny Wolf, Anni Friesinger-Postma and Monique Garbrecht. Claudia Pechstein won nine Olympic medals in long track speed skating, more than any other skater, male or female. Successful male German speed skaters have included Erhard Keller and Uwe-Jens Mey. Success in short track speed skating has been harder to come by, however Tyson Heung did win the overall ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in 2006/07.

Germany has a heritage in figure skating extending to the early days of international competition - Oskar Uhlig won the inaugural European Figure Skating Championships in 1891, while the first male and pairs World Champions were Gilbert Fuchs in 1896 and the pairing of Anna Hübler and Heinrich Burger in 1908 (Hübler and Burger were also the first Olympic gold medalists in pairs competition at the 1908 Games). Germany's best-known figure skater is Katarina Witt, a double Olympic gold medalist in the 1980s. Other notable German competitors include Manfred Schnelldorfer, Jan Hoffmann, Gabriele Seyfert, Anett Pötzsch and the pairings of Ria Baran and Paul Falk, Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler, and Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.

Germany has been a regular competitor in Olympic Curling since the sport was reintroduced at the 1998 Winter Olympics. The German men's and women's teams both won World Curling Championships in 1992 and 1994. A related sport, known as Eisstockschiessen or ice stock sport, is played in southern Germany.

Tennis

The two most successful German tennis players of all time are Steffi Graf and Boris Becker.

Becker became the youngest champion in the history of the men’s singles at Wimbledon, won six-time Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal together with Michael Stich.

Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, second among male and female players. In 1988, she became the first and only tennis player (male or female) to achieve the Calendar Year Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year.

Cycling

Cycling is a popular sport in Germany and one of the greatest riders of recent times Jan Ullrich dominated the Tour de France in 1997. He finished a full 9 minutes in front of second place rider Richard Virenque. Jan was regarded as Lance Armstrong's only consistent rival, finishing second to him several times in the Tour de France. Recently Tony Martin has emerged as one of the top Individual time trial specialists in the world, winning the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. André Greipel has been one of the most prolific winners among road sprinters since his breakthrough in the late 2000s, while fellow sprinters Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb have also enjoyed major success from the early 2010s.

Golf

Martin Kaymer at the BMW Open

As recently as 2007, Germany hosted three events on golf's European Tour—the Deutsche Bank Players Championship of Europe, the Mercedes-Benz Championship and the BMW International Open. However, since 2010, the only European Tour event in Germany has been the BMW International Open. The Players Championship was scrapped after 2007; the Mercedes-Benz Championship was not held in 2008, resumed in 2009, and dropped again in 2010.

Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer is the first German to have won a major championship and is a former World No. 1. He is now on the Champions Tour in the U.S. for golfers 50 and over; he has led that tour in prize money in five of his six full seasons on that tour, and won two majors in 2010, namely the Senior Open Championship and U.S. Senior Open. Martin Kaymer became the second German to win a major championship by winning the 2010 PGA Championship in Wisconsin, and in 2011 rose to World No. 1.

Boxing

Max Schmeling in 1938.

Boxing is among the most watched TV sports in Germany. Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are among the two most popular boxers in Germany with both male and female fights enjoying regular spots on national television.3 German television network RTL has listed the Klitschko brothers as their most important asset next to football. In recent years Germany has become a hub for boxing, the Vegas of Europe, and many international fighters travel to fight out of the country.145 Henry Maske is a successful recent German box champion.

Max Schmeling was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. His two fights with Joe Louis in the late 1930s transcended boxing, and became worldwide social events because of their national associations. He was ranked 55 on Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

Rugby Union

The first German rugby team was formed at Neuenheim College around 1850. Heidelberger Ruderklub von 1872 founded in 1872 is the oldest German rugby club. The German Rugby Federation was set up in 1900. Germany was Olympic silver medallist in rugby union in 1900. Today the Germany national rugby union team competes in the second division of the European Nations Cup.

Water Sports

Water sports like sailing, rowing, swimming, wind- and kitesurfing, wakeboarding, underwater diving, fishing, powerboating and yachting are popular in Germany, especially with large annual events such as Kiel Week or Hanse Sail in Rostock.

References

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