The Language Bridge

The Common Denominator of German Football and Business

In Germany, business strategy and football strategy are one and the same

For the UK company wanting to export to Europe’s biggest market, there is much to learn from Germany’s football success. German football teams have always had their great, almost legendary individuals. Franz Beckenbauer, to name but one. But key to Germany’s football success is well-prepared tactics of the team as a whole.

The team plays to a system and each player knows exactly what the requisite pattern is. If necessary, that system can be, and will be modified during the game. Flexibility, intelligence, attention to technical detail in the pre-match homework, plus the will to succeed, all blend together impressively. This is no different to German business strategy.

Telling it how it is

German businessmen and women will go into a meeting well-briefed and well-organised having done their research on you. They won’t indulge in small talk and banter during the meeting but will use the time efficiently. Germans prefer meetings to be based on an exchange of clear signals, preferring to save time and money by being straight from the start.

In fact, you can expect business meetings to be like their football matches: systematic and inherently logical. Small details will matter, specific factual information about the product will be sought, potential issues and problems paid special attention from the outset.

The bigger picture

Much like on the football pitch, businessmen and women conducting meetings know their place within the overall structure and systems of their company, however large or small, and understand how a new British product might fit in or not. That doesn’t mean that they will be able to give you a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the spot, but rather that they will want to discuss everything with other figures in their company.

Your discussions at the meeting and ensuing contact will focus on substantial issues rather than, for example, on how best to dress up and market the product. This will take time and patience.

It is essential to prepare for the German business pitch methodically and with technical finesse. Adopting the German business mentality and etiquette is crucial to success. If you don’t pay attention to it, then it’s a case of missed penalties and, even worse, own goals.

On and off the field

"In sum, ‘On and Off the Field’ is a highly recommendable book. Not just for football fans, but also for readers interested in cultural studies in general. Hopefully, the dual Anglo-German perspective, which even shows in all the English contributions being written in English and all the German contributions in German, will be followed in future projects."       

Review by Hans Henrik Appel of On and Off the Field: Fußballkultur in England und Deutschland / Football Culture in England and Germany, Anthony Waine and Kristian Naglo (eds.), (Wiesbaden, 2014). In: Sport in History, July 2016





Posted: 28th June 2015

Our Blogs


5 lessons learned from running my own business

February 18, 2020

Crucial lessons for survival and success I’ve learned over the past 17 years

Building real sales opportunities through German trade fairs

May 31, 2019

Almost every sector and type of technology is covered by a powerful trade fair/expo in Germany

Experience is their main asset

February 14, 2019

Vivien Hacker Waine takes a look at the importance of tapping into experience

Germany v England: a shared cultural good

May 30, 2018

Our latest take on the highs and lows of our linked football past - and present

Tips and techniques for translating German into English

April 08, 2018

German sentences do indeed have a beginning, a middle and an end. But not necessarily in that order

Build your business in Germany with a .de website

August 18, 2017

Without one of these your business may simply be invisible in Germany

Berlin's European Destiny

August 11, 2017

A visit brings alive Berlin's past and present - and provides perspective on the future 

Choosing your export destination: the German market – big and on your doorstep...

July 20, 2017

More reasons to focus on that established, thriving market close to home

Case Study: Hands-On Help with Exporting Checkpoint® to Germany

March 09, 2017

The Checkpoint® loose wheel nut indicator is the brain child of Mike Marczynski

Profiting from international trade fairs

January 19, 2017

A quick overview of my experiences as a regular visitor to trade fairs for over ten years

Our Europe

May 20, 2016

The lasting value of our own personal bridges to our fellow Europeans

Case Study: Translating into English for Major German Trailer Manufacturer SPIER

January 24, 2016

Like so many German businesses, SPIER has built up export markets throughout the world

What a difference a word makes

January 05, 2016

Exploring the translator's work - bringing the real meaning to life

"But everyone speaks English!"

September 19, 2015

More reasons to ensure your business communicates in ways customers can relate to

The Common Denominator of German Football and Business

June 28, 2015

In Germany, business strategy and football strategy are one and the same

Why your business needs translating

April 28, 2015

Successful businesses are investing in translations that read as though they were never translated

Helping great British ideas get into German, Swiss and Austrian markets

January 11, 2015

Helping to connect Pacerpoles with important German speaking markets

Exporting British ideas the German way

November 23, 2014

Why have the Germans notched up one commercial success after another?

3 Steps to Exhibiting Successfully at a German Trade Fair

November 09, 2014

If you're thinking of expanding into Europe’s biggest market - then trade shows can be vital

German ambassador turns business guru

November 01, 2014

Vivien Hacker, MD of Eureko Associates Limited and a Director of Lancaster Chamber of Commerce


Share this page

Submit to FacebookSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn