The Future of Independent Football Journalism

Football journalist


“Keeping your distance” has become the baseline of our everyday lives. This applies equally to the bus driver and the supermarket cashier as well as to the sports journalist and the football professional. Sports Journalists from various reputable institutions have to keep their distance too. The rule has made it difficult for many journalists and it is no different with sports journalists from hesgoal.

Football Players & Sports Clubs: Benefitting More From Their Homemade Reporting

Not only since the beginning of the pandemic but players and clubs have also been spreading their own content via their social media channels or the club’s internal editorial offices. But now, journalists have to keep their distance. But while keeping that distance, football players and clubs are benefitting more than ever from their homemade reporting.

Footballers and clubs enjoy reaching a huge following that newspaper editors can only dream of. For comparison: The Instagram account of FC Bayern Munich is followed by 24.4 million people, Toni Kroos even 26 million. The channel of the sports magazine “kicker” has a followership of 811,000 and is thus the most successful representative of German sports journalism.

On Twitter, a similar picture is emerging. The “Sportschau” is followed by 625,000 users, Arsenal London’s Mesut Özil with 25.2 million more than 40 times as many. Most of his followers expect insight into Özil’s world of thought, which the press will hardly provide more exclusively.

Mesut Özil and July 22, 2018

This is what happened on 22 July 2018: After the botched World Cup, Özil no longer wanted to be considered a scapegoat. But instead of giving an interview to any sports medium, Özil published a polemic in three acts on Instagram and Twitter, in which he announced his resignation from the national team.

The result was 2.7 million likes, more than 100,000 comments, and a state-supporting discussion.

From the “Spiegel” to the “Corriere Della Sera” to the “New York Times”: The daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers pounced on his statement. Instead of having to respond to critical questions, Özil was able to publish his view of things unchallenged. And many media printed Özil’s sentences in the wording.


ALSO READ: How to Properly Build Links for News Websites


Professor of Journalism: “Longing for Information Relevance”

However, these trends do not detract from the social relevance of sports journalism, and they open up new perspectives, says Marcus Bölz in an interview with our editors.

“New stages such as social media differentiate football journalism, they do not replace it.” Bölz is a Professor of Journalism with a focus on Sports Journalism at the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands in Hanover.

“In Germany, there is a longing for information relevance,” says the expert. For most football consumers, it is not enough to get the posts of their stars flushed into the timeline or to be content with the club’s court coverage. “They want to have good stories, good journalism.”

Sports scientist Thomas Horky says in the “Spiegel” interview that who ultimately had the news first no longer plays a major role. “Journalists should be able to tell their own stories beyond something like this, the classification and evaluation is just as relevant as the news itself.” Horky works as a freelance sports journalist, teaches journalism at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, and researches the rise of club-owned media.

24 hours FC Bayern

Because the international reference points Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Manchester United have long had their own television channels, Germany’s Primus moved along and went live with “” three years ago.

The club station has always been sounding its subscribers in a continuous loop with FC Bayern Munich 24 hours a day. Individual formats are broadcast in 75 countries. “We have the opportunity to send out the message ourselves,” said Marketing Director Andreas Jung at the time of the launch, Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: “Here you get above all the news that is certainly true.”

Meanwhile, almost all Bundesliga clubs have their own formats. For the clubs, this means no critical inquiries, no annoying authorization processes, and clearly dosed information.

The media departments can set the topics themselves at will. “From a factual point of view, however, it cannot be competition,” says Thomas Horky. “Club media are a PR offer and have nothing to do with the critical role of journalism.” Horky even sees an opportunity for independent sports journalism, a return to traditional standards, such as “criticism, control and the curation of opinions and topics”.

Journalism and the Sacred Cows

Marcus Bölz also alleviates the concern that independent journalism will be lost due to the increase in controlled formats. “In this country, sports journalism goes hand in hand with fan culture. Both have a preserving character.”

An example: In 2007, the DFL concluded a contract with the company “Sirius SportMedia” to market the Bundesliga. In the room was the plan to run the Bundesliga games only on pay-TV and to distribute them there – at the expense of the ARD “sports show”.

Although the camp of the Association of German Sports Journalists did not believe in a “propaganda channel of the German Football League (DFL)”, there was still the fear of a caesura in free reporting.

Managing Director Christian Seifert said at the time: “I cannot dispel the concerns that the ‘Sportschau’ will continue to exist at the current time.” The outcry was great, the idea was quickly off the table. “Something like this doesn’t work in Germany, we have our sacred cows,” says expert Bölz.

Josh Hope: A Social Dilemma

Twitter, Instagram, and Co., on the other hand, are not so easy to moderate. Social media, journalism, and football will be linked together indefinitely. Where the common path goes, the interaction with each other will show.

A few weeks ago, Australian Josh Hope ended his football career at the age of 22. It all started with a missed penalty. The persistent hate comments and threats on the Internet would eventually have led to a mental breakdown. “Someone wrote to me that I would be dead if I missed another penalty,” Hope, who played for Melbourne Victory, told sportbible. “This becomes a vicious circle because you’re so afraid to poop it.” At the beginning of the month, the decision was finally made to turn away from the football business for the time being, at some point he wanted to return. Josh Hope announced his temporary end to his career via Instagram post.