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Jakarta Post

Germany's Bundesliga wants a piece of Indonesia’s soccer pie

  • Ramadani Saputra and Niken Prathivi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 22, 2019   /   11:16 am
Germany's Bundesliga wants a piece of Indonesia’s soccer pie Germany soccer legend Lothar Matthaus talks to the press during his visit to Jakarta for Bundesliga Experience event on Thursday, Nov. 14. (JP/I Gede Dharma JS)

As a soccer-mad country, Indonesia is a mouth-watering market for any world league, and Germany’s Bundesliga seems to be following the path of the big-three — English Premier League, Spanish’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A — in attempting to woo fans of the country.

In a series of Bundesliga Experience events, which concluded on Nov. 16 with the Bundesliga fan festival at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) sporting complex in Central Jakarta, the German league deployed one of its legends, Lothar Herbert Matthäus, to engage with visitors.

Soccer observer Anton Sanjoyo said the approach by global leagues to Indonesia was a natural thing for them as they were creating markets to keep their soccer business alive.

“The European market is practically stagnant […]. The fact that the world’s economy is centered on Asia -- with China, South Korea and Japan -- our continent is certainly another factor,” Anton told The Jakarta Post recently, adding that those leagues still felt superior to the Asian market as compared to Latin America.

To capture the opportunities, Anton urged the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) to open access for future partnerships with those leagues. “We also need to learn how to manage clubs and competitions from them.”

Matthäus, the most capped German player of all time with 150 appearances and 23 goals for the national soccer team under his belt, started his promotional engagement with a press conference on Nov. 14 morning and a reception later in the afternoon at the German Ambassador to Indonesia Peter Schoof’s residence in South Jakarta.

The 1991 FIFA World Player of the Year seemed at ease dealing with journalists, even making time to entertain them with light jokes before interviews.

The captain, who led Germany’s 1990 World Cup win, then explained that competitiveness ran in the family.

“I was the youngest and smallest [in my family]. There was a competition between me and my brother at a young age and later in the small village club. I like the competition. I like to be better than other players,” he told reporters.

“I was always the youngest and it means I have to fight.”

The 1990 European Soccer Player of the Year also shared his perspective on today’s soccer.

“[What is considered] young [in my time] is different from today. I was a young player and I started playing professionally at 18. Today, we have a lot of academies in Germany and each professional club makes its [own] talents and creates many young talents,” he said.

“We also have many young international players because Bundesliga gives them the chance to play. I think it’s important for young players to get game practice, not only sit on the bench and train. They have to play to improve.”

Reflecting on his time playing the sport for 21 years, Matthäus, who has managing experience with Hungary and Belarus as head coach, provided some words of advice.

“You have to get motivated. [You] always [have to have] motivation, passion, love of the sport [as well as] training sessions. You have to improve. You have to practice after training what you missed during training because the coach doesn’t have time to teach everybody alone,” he said, adding that he added an extra 20 minutes of training in the field after he practiced with the team when he was an active player.

Besides having Matthäus, the Bundesliga also focused on several things to attract more fans in Indonesia, one of Bundesliga’s 14 key markets.

Data from the sport global intelligence service SportsBusiness Media shows how lucrative the Indonesian market is for the business of sports. The value of the World Cup media rights in the country has increased to US$15 million in 2018 from S$1.4 million in 2002.  

Bundesliga’s senior manager of international marketing Daniel Donaldson said the league focused on selling the authenticity of each club, a quality that draws fans’ interest.

He said attracting young people was one of the challenges that the league had to face.

“We just don’t want somebody broadcasting the game and promoting the league on television but also have partners [like] influential people in the different countries to do a little bit more explaining about the league in other forms of media, not only live television,” Donaldson told the Post.