DFB President Bernd Neuendorf stood in the corridors of the Lyon stadium “somewhat stunned” by the excited and cross-party criticism of the million-dollar deal with Nike.

He will certainly not apologize for the fact that the German Football Association will no longer wear Adidas from 2027, said Neuendorf in a firm voice on the sidelines of the international match in France. But he would explain the background – especially Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck, who wanted more “location patriotism” from the financially struggling DFB.

Habeck’s statements were also “very strange,” said former state politician Neuendorf. “This is about competition, this is about a market economy.” The DFB simply accepted the significantly better offer.

“It’s about not damaging the association, and we would certainly have done that if we hadn’t accepted this offer,” said Neuendorf, who was the next top DFB official to counter the criticism from politicians on Saturday evening on ZDF. He would be “gladly available” for a conversation with Green Party politician Habeck.

Suddenly a patriot? DFB vice-president counters criticism

DFL supervisory board chairman and DFB deputy Hans-Joachim Watzke described most of the reactions as “totally wrong”. There are “people who said five years ago: “Love for the fatherland pisses me off” and are now suddenly discovering patriotism,” said Watzke on Sky.

The DFB announced on Thursday that it would let the contract with long-term partner Adidas, which was valid until the end of 2026, expire and would be equipped by the US giant Nike from 2027 to 2034. According to information from the Handelsblatt, Nike is said to transfer more than 100 million euros per year – twice as much as Adidas is currently supposedly paying.

As a result, a discussion developed in which Neuendorf noted that a lot of things were said without any background knowledge. CDU leader Friedrich Merz called the decision “incomprehensible” and “unpatriotic.” Hesse’s CDU Prime Minister Boris Rhein said: “The world champion wears Adidas, not some American fantasy brand.”

Watzke makes an exception

Watzke noted in the interview that “the only sensible thing I read” was the sentence from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who said: This is the association’s business. “If a non-profit football association can earn almost twice as much and almost 400 million euros more over eight years and put at least a larger part of it into the development of children’s, youth and women’s football, then there is no alternative,” said sports economist Christoph Breuer of the German Press Agency.

The conflict between politics and the DFB is remarkable less than three months before the home tournament (June 14th to July 14th), and the relationship has never seemed really harmonious in the past few months. “I was very surprised that politicians, without any knowledge and, above all, without the facts, would lean so far out of the populist window. I have to honestly say that is a new quality,” said DFB managing director Andreas Rettig at ran. “Perhaps it would have been better to remain silent once or twice.”

DFB and Adidas are still closely linked

The DFB was criticized not only for the decision, but also for the timing. A good week before, Adidas and the DFB presented the jerseys for the home European Championships. The campaign with the pink away jersey was well received. In addition, the national team lives during the European Championships at Adidas’ so-called home ground in Herzogenaurach, Franconia. The partnership will end at the end of 2026 after more than 70 years.

“It was clear that this was such a big issue in public and I can understand that,” said Watzke. “When I was confronted with it, I had to take a breath. It was a long-standing relationship between the DFB and Adidas.”

But there was no room for Watzke to make a different decision either. The difference in offers was “so gigantic”. “There was simply no other solution. If you advertise, then at some point someone will be angry,” said Watzke. Rules couldn’t be created and then commented on in politics “that it was unpatriotic. I just found that totally wrong,” said Watzke.