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Football makes a difference

DFB president Reinhard Grindel was a guest at a dialogue event held by VfL Wolfsburg in partnership with Volkswagen.

No other sport unites people across the world as much as football. The vast media coverage presents the opportunity to address and promote social issues. On Monday, VfL Wolfsburg and its partner Volkswagen ran an event, under the motto of ‘Football makes a difference’, where current trends were discussed. Several prominent experts from the industry and from the fields of science, politics, administration and economics attended the event at the Volkswagen Arena – including Grindel, president of the German Football Association (DFB), and Hiltrud Werner, Volkswagen AG board member.

“Social responsibility”

“We can’t just concentrate on football,” stressed VfL managing director Dr. Tim Schumacher as he kicked off proceedings. “We must have social responsibility and be aware that we really can make a difference. We want to fulfil this obligation.” Grindel took a similar stance, praising the recently published VfL progress report and emphasising that social commitment is gaining increasing relevance in club work: “Through their extensive CSR activities and the sustainability report, VfL Wolfsburg has the skills to help other clubs do better in these challenges. Among other things it’s about helping young people, whether it’s getting them a training place or offering language courses to refugees or supporting them in dealing with authorities. It certainly helps if you have a major partner on your side.”

“Bridge to the future”

Grindel also touched on footballing topics such as the new UEFA Nations League competition, the current debate surrounding a ‘Super League’ and the 2024 European Championship being held in Germany. In the run-up to the event, the 57-year-old had contacted Pablo Thiam, the head of VfL’s football academy, to discuss the work of academies. “It’s a great bridge to the future for top-level football because it’s about starting a project for 2024 together with the Bundesliga so that we then have a team that’s capable of challenging for the tournament in our own country,” he said.

Round table

This was followed by a round table discussion on the social responsibility of clubs, associations and players.  Dunja Kreiser (sports policy spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group in the Lower Saxony state parliament), Lutz Pfannenstiel (former goalkeeper), Albert Recknagel (chairman, terre des hommes), Marcel Reif (football commentator), Sylvia Schenk (head of the sport task force, Transparency International) and Thiam were the participants.