Sport

Last updated: 6 november, 2009 - 17:36 GMT

Football revolution?

To play this content JavaScript must be turned on and the latest Flash player installed.

Play in either Real OR Windows Media players

One of the men in charge of European football when the Berlin Wall came down has told World Football the international game suffered as a result.

Gerhard Aigner - a German himself - was General Secretary of UEFA on 9 November 1989. He was speaking on World Football's special programme on Football and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Former UEFA general secretary Gerhard Aigner, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter

Aigner, right, doesn't believe that more countries in UEFA has improved the quality of European football

"I couldn't have imagined that things would happen so quickly," he said. "Of course, I was overwhelmed by joy, but it was also clear there would be lots of difficulties."

"Football-wise, it meant we would lose an association - that they (the two Germanies) had to merge. That was quite something, and is the opposite of what happened in all the other countries afterwards."

"The basic truth is that we didn't really get new members, because all these new countries were already in UEFA as part of another, bigger entity, but were not present in European competitions, because they did not make it to that level. So it increased the number participating, but it didn't really increase the quality."

"We cannot really be satisfied with that, but of course we have to be happy that these borders are open, that these players can move, that the clubs can play and travel without restriction - and that in itself is a great achievement."

Player's view

To play this content JavaScript must be turned on and the latest Flash player installed.

Play in either Real OR Windows Media players


On 9 November 1989, Andreas Thom was with his international team-mates, as East Germany prepared for a World Cup qualifier with Austria in Vienna.

Thom tells World Football: "I was in Leipzig preparing for maybe the main game in my career. The qualifying game in Vienna was on the 15th - and we needed only a point to qualify for Italy 1990 (the World Cup Finals). But we lost 3-nil - it was really a disaster."

"When the wall came down, I was really surprised, and we asked ourselves: what happens now with our contracts? We didn't really know what we had to do. It definitely affected the (East Germany) team a little bit."

Thom was one of the star players for BFC Dynamo - the club in East Berlin backed by the Stasi. They were dominant - winning ten consecutive Oberliga titles, amidst suspicions referees were pressurised.

But Thom is reluctant to accept the team's success was down to cheating. "The club was really hated in East Germany by everyone. But for me as a young player, it was really good. I learned very much in that time."

"A few decisions were, maybe, not correct, but when you play 26 games a year, it cannot be manipulated by only referees. We had, in that time, a very good team."

Listen to click World Football's special programme on football since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The programme also looks at what football was like in East Germany before 1989 and how the leading clubs in the former East Germany have fared in the past two decades.

World Football podcast

  • This podcast gets right under the skin of world football with extraordinary stories, interviews, and features from BBC World Service's World Football.

    Download

Related BBC links

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.