HSV & Hoffenheim

German soccer teams: the story of HSV and Hoffenheim

The Bundesliga Dinosaur – Hamburger Sportverein

German Soccer teams: The Hamburger Sportverein or short HSV is a very special club indeed. It is the only founding member of the highest German soccer league, the Bundesliga, that has never been relegated to the second division in its 53 years of existence. And for a while, the Goliath of Hamburg’s largest soccer clubs, HSV and FC St. Pauli, celebrated this fact with counting the days of the clubs stay in the first division on a display in the stadium.

But after the “Rothosen (Red Shorts is one of the HSV’s nicknames)” came very close to being relegated into the second division in the last couple of years, the club board decided to take the display down. In two of the last three seasons, the Hamburger Sportverein ended up 16th on the Bundesliga table, then having to play two relegation matches against the team placed third in the second division, the 2. Bundesliga. In both cases, the HSV came very closely to losing their unique attribute as the oldest member of the Bundesliga.

Past success and actual reality

In general, one has to state that the heydays of the Hamburger Sportverein are long past, even though they are still very much coining the self-image of the club and its fans. Athletically speaking, the HSV constantly has to struggle with its aspirations, fueled by past success, and the actual reality on the scoreboard. The heights of the clubs athletic triumph can be dated back to the 80’s, when the HSV managed to win national and international championships. From the late 90’s to the late 2000’s, the club was actually quite successful, but a sense of satisfaction could not be felt. Since then, everything pretty much went downhill athletically as well as financially. Numerous unsound investments had been made and the Hamburger Sportverein gave up some of its integrity to begin recuperation from these circumstances.

German soccer teams, A billionaire’s DYI-Club – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Even if you have never heard of Hoffenheim, you might have heard of SAP. It’s one of the biggest software companies on the planet and its applications are used in countless offices worldwide. Now, what do SAP and the soccer club 1899 Hoffenheim have in common? One man has been a crucial part of their success. Dietmar Hopp was raised in the small town of Hoffenheim, close to Heidelberg, and became one of the most successful businessmen out of Germany. He co-founded the SAP Company and financed the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim with millions of Euros from 1990 to 2008. Hopp, who played for the club as a child, took on a role that is comparable to a club owner in the English Premier League, even though the German soccer system doesn’t allow this type of ownership.

With Hopp’s reign and money, the club rose through the ranks from the nether regions of amateur soccer to the Bundesliga in a very short amount of time. The TSG relegated to the first German division in 2008 and has not left it since – even though the club’s efforts have been subject to strong fluctuations.

HSV & Hoffenheim - German Soccer teams
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HSV’s stepbrother

1899 Hoffenheim, which operates a stadium fitting more than thrice the population of its hometown, is seen by many of the more traditionalist soccer fans as something that doesn’t belong in soccer. In that aspect, it is somewhat the opposite of the HSV, a club with one of the longest traditions there are. In Germany, many soccer supporters are caught between the ideas and ideologies of a team sport as well as the narratives of teams that are successful by working together and overcoming the odds and the harsh reality of soccer being a highly profitable product, where money does indeed score goals. 1899 Hoffenheim is a prime example of the latter and thus being disliked by many.

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