DFB Vice President Hans-Joachim Watzke has sharply criticized the reforms planned by the German Football Association in the youth sector. “Incredible and incomprehensible to me,” said the 64-year-old, who is also the head of the supervisory board of the German Football League and managing director of Borussia Dortmund, on Wednesday evening at the DUP Entrepreneur Day in Essen. Watzke announced a reform of the reform: “We just decided that.”

At the end of August, the DFB introduced Hannes Wolf as the new director responsible for young talent. The 42-year-old explained and defended the youth reform in detail. Most recently, it was decided to restructure the youth competitions and abolish the previous A and B junior national leagues. The core point of the criticism is again and again that it is supposedly no longer about winning and losing.

“If you, as a six, eight or nine-year-old, never have the feeling of what it is like to lose, then you will never find the great strength to win,” said Watzke. “If we are afraid that an eight-year-old will be completely thrown out of balance in life because his team loses 5-0, then that says a lot about German society.”

From 2024, new forms of play are to be established. In essence, these provide for smaller team sizes on smaller playing fields in certain age groups and replace the previous competitive offers as fixed formats. “There was also a discussion about not playing for goals anymore. We’ll soon be playing without the ball,” said Watzke. “Or we make it square so that it doesn’t run away from the slightly slower youngsters. I think that’s fundamentally the wrong approach.”

Watzke criticized that “there are many people in the DFB and in society as a whole who say: We need to have less pressure to perform and stress at work and prefer to have a little more home office. We all have to be happy and peaceful and all get along well and on We’ll see that we find someone who will pay for the whole thing.” That also applies to youth football, said the official. “You mustn’t underestimate that. And I think it’s completely wrong.”