National coach Hansi Flick recently called for the kick-off times for international matches to be made more child-friendly. But that should remain wishful thinking because Uefa and its marketing agency decide on it.
Hansi Flick has a problem with the national team. After the early preliminary round at the World Cup in Qatar, the national coach has to prepare the DFB team for the home European Championship in 2024. Flick also has to ensure that the team is made more attractive again for its own fans. The reputation of the best German footballers has suffered greatly in recent years. Three botched tournaments (WM 2018, EM 2021, WM 2022), cheating and tax processes at the DFB have thoroughly battered the image of the German national team. As a result, support from fans has decreased noticeably in recent years.
The new DFB sports director Rudi Völler should change that together with Flick. One measure that Völler, Flick and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf have in mind is new kick-off times for international matches. They shouldn’t be kicked off late at 8.45 p.m., but earlier, because that’s more child-friendly and you want to get the youngest ones excited about the national team. A fan bond can’t happen soon enough.
Better TV ratings in prime time
Many children are in bed at 8.45 p.m., especially during school hours, Flick recently complained: “I already have grandchildren and I am often asked by their classmates: Why do you always play so late?”
The question is probably easy to answer. The decision-makers know that TV ratings are higher in the evening. If the games kicked off at 5 or 6 p.m. at more child-friendly times, there might be a younger audience, but not as numerous.
But who decides the kick-off time? The situation is unclear. ZDF and ARD, which will broadcast the next two international matches, answer evasively: “The fixtures and kick-off times for the national team games are the responsibility of the DFB and Uefa, which markets the rights to the games of all European associations centrally,” it says evasively. Sports coordinator Axel Balkausky said on ARD: The kick-off times are in the sovereignty of the DFB and the rights holder Uefa and the marketing agency CAA Elven, “who market the international matches centrally. That’s where the decisions have to be made.”
The European Football Union (Uefa) is in fact preparing a plan for the numerous games on the continent when it comes to the Nations League or qualifying for the European Championship or the World Cup. But there is an exceptional situation because of the European Championships at home next year: the German national soccer team is currently only having test matches, the DFB can look for opponents and then use them to determine the venues and dates within the general calendar.
Kick-off times are apparently regulated in contracts
But not the kick-off times because, unlike in the past, the TV rights for the German games are also held by Uefa for the tests. The agency CAA Eleven is responsible for the marketing. So far there is a confirmed contract with RTL for the German market. In May last year, the broadcaster announced a contract that would run until 2028. The rights acquired include half of a package containing Nations League matches, qualifiers and tests.
The situation is different for the public broadcasters, who, according to dpa information, have acquired the other half of the total package with at least 60 DFB international matches. However, there is still no official confirmation from ARD and ZDF on the agreement on the broadcasting rights with Uefa and CAA Eleven.
How does it go from here? “Apart from the recent statements by Hansi Flick and Rudi Völler, we are not aware of any specific considerations by the DFB to start the national team games earlier in the future,” says ZDF. “If there are any considerations or suggestions from the DFB, we will deal with them constructively.” According to Balkausky, the ARD is “in this context, of course, as always, ready to deal constructively with any considerations and suggestions from the DFB”.
According to dpa information, the broadcasters have contracts that provide for a kick-off in prime time. In the event of a change and an initiation before this prime time, the license fee to be paid would have to be renegotiated.
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.