The new football format Baller League has so far far exceeded expectations. “We would have defined half of everything as success. Half the spectators, half the sporting quality. We have increased our expectations tenfold,” said Baller League managing director Felix Starck on Monday evening at the Final Four tournament in Düsseldorf’s PSD. Dome.

12,500 spectators came to the final round of the small-field amateur football tournament plus a few ex-professionals. The co-founders of the new league are former world champions Lukas Podolski and Mats Hummels.

The second season is scheduled to start in Cologne in July. The field of participants should be increased to 14. “We give the street kickers a stage,” said Starck. Cologne Bundesliga player Selina Cerci, manager of the Las Ligas Ladies team, is convinced of the success of the new format. “I think the Baller League can achieve something great if this continues.”