Fall of Berlin Wall and hopes of sports superpower status

Sat Nov 8, 2014 7:08pm EST
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By Adrian Warner

LONDON (Reuters) - Berliners had only just started taking pickaxes to the Berlin Wall in the days after its dramatic demise on November 9, 1989 when the world of sport began confidently predicting a golden future for a reunited Germany.

German officials talked about staging an historic Olympics in East and West Berlin to celebrate the end of the Cold War. The rest of the world added the 102 medals which the GDR won at the 1988 Seoul Olympics to the 40 won by West Germany and announced the birth of a new sporting superpower to threaten Soviet and American supremacy.

When West Germany won the World Cup in Rome the following summer, just before official reunification in October 1990, coach Franz Beckenbauer said German soccer would be "unbeatable" with the talented East Germans Matthias Sammer, Ulf Kirsten and Thomas Doll teaming up with big stars like Juergen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthaeus.

But, 25 years on, only Beckenbauer's prediction has got anywhere close to reality, with the World Cup triumph in Brazil in July, and there is a strong argument that would have happened without the East.

There are no teams from the former GDR in the Bundesliga -- Dynamo Dresden and Lokomotive Leipzig have dropped to the lower divisions after being household names in the Communist days.

Berlin's bid for the 2000 Olympics, marred by controversy and protests from local groups, failed to inspire the International Olympic Committee, attracting just 9 out of 90 votes in 1993.

The Germans are currently deciding whether to bid again for 2024 with the capital.


Former player and coach Franz Beckenbauer signs a wall of fame at a gala marking the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the German Bundesliga soccer league, in Berlin August 6, 2013.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter