Out for “The Team”: A defeat for all language guides

opinion Out for “The Team”

A crushing defeat for all language guides

Withered: “The Crew” was never accepted

Source: Robert Michael/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

The DFB bows to reality and says goodbye to the term “The Team”. Seven years of propaganda failed to get this official fancy expression accepted. This also gives hope for resistance to other language regulations imposed from above.

Dhe people, the big louts, just didn’t play along. In a last rearguard action, Oliver Bierhoff can point out that, according to surveys, the majority of football fans have a positive attitude towards the marketing term “The Team” – especially younger people. The German Football Association nevertheless acted according to the motto “I don’t believe in any survey that I didn’t do myself with the hand of God” and has now decided to no longer use the advertising label “The Team” introduced in 2015.

Back then, a year after winning the World Cup, the DFB, driven by national team manager Bierhoff, thought it would be a good idea to finally give their own national team a name. Because Germany had been missing something for decades, and nobody had noticed it until then. The Swiss have their Nati, the French their Bleus, the Italians their Squadra Azzurra, the Spaniards their Furia Roja and the Brazilians their Seleção. But for the German national team there was neither a nickname nor a globally understandable trademark. The “tank” used by Italian sports gazettes was not found acceptable at the DFB for obvious reasons.

A rather daring and authoritarian move

“The team” was obvious for international marketing because some countries had been using this term for a long time. In the Dutch media, the Germans have been called a team since the 1950s, for example in an article in the “Telegraf” of October 14, 1959, which reported on an international match between the Dutch and the Germans under coach Sepp Herberger and with striker Helmut Rahn in Cologne . The French have been using the term for a long time. And in the early 2010s, the English started doing it too.

Nevertheless, it was a rather daring and authoritarian process that the DFB officially recognized the foreign term. A bit as if the French and British were ordered to call their national teams “L’équipe tricolore” or “Three Lions Team” – two nicknames that nobody uses in the countries concerned and which are only common in Germany.

Right from the start, “The Team” was as unpopular with football fans as gender language is with the majority of the population. They reacted as stubbornly as the Bavarian schoolchildren, to whom “experts” wanted to teach “gender-equitable” language in a television program – and who they then quite clearly rejected.

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The capitulation of the DFB is therefore also a sign of hope for other arenas of current linguistic conflicts. When the officials introduced the term “The Team”, it was one of those typical top-down events that are used today for language control. Instead of hoping for slow evolutionary language change from below, in the fight for gender language or for supposedly discriminatory terms in the name of abstract justice, language change is simply decreed from above or at least exemplified, propagated and demanded by state media and authorities, teachers and professors.

Ultimately, however, the power of the authorities to enforce the desired language norm is limited – at the DFB as elsewhere – to small, manageable, enclosed areas of authority. They have only limited control over the dirty, wild reality of speech. If, despite years of brainwashing, it was not possible to force something undesirable and artificial on football fans, it should certainly not be possible against the resistance of the 100 million speakers of German.


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