Germany vs Spain: Euro 2024 Quarterfinal Highlights East-West Football Divide

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By  Milcah  Tanimu

Of the 10 host cities for UEFA Euro 2024, only one is in the former East Germany, and it won’t host any finals matches. Can the playing field be leveled?

As Germany prepares to face Spain in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals in Stuttgart, the economic impact of the tournament is significant, with an expected 1 billion euros ($1.08bn) boost to the German economy. However, the benefits are unevenly distributed, with former East Germany seeing far less economic gain compared to the more prosperous western states.

Despite the excitement surrounding the tournament, it highlights the persistent east-west divide in German football. None of the four quarterfinal matches, semifinals, or the final will be held in the former East Germany. Among the 10 host cities, only Leipzig, in the east, is represented, and even this club, RB Leipzig, was formed after reunification in a controversial takeover by Red Bull.

Tony Kroos, the only player in the current German squad born in the former East Germany, is set to retire after the tournament. The German Football Association (DFB) has not addressed efforts to bridge the historical gaps post-reunification or the selection criteria for host cities, pointing instead to UEFA’s stadium size requirements.

Commentators note the ongoing disparities between eastern and western German football, from stadium infrastructure to revenue and representation in the national leagues. Journalist Ulrich Hesse remarks that the divide is a fair reflection of the persistent differences, which may even be widening. Among the 18 teams in the Bundesliga, only two are from the former East Germany, highlighting the deep-rooted challenges in achieving a unified football landscape.


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