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Germany, the footballing nation: from World Cup titles to the “summer fairy tale”

Millions of people in Germany play football or support their teams. Facts and figures about German football.  

Every footballer’s dream: the World Cup
Every footballer’s dream: the World Cup © picture alliance / Laci Perenyi

Nearly 25,000 clubs, more than two million players and over seven million members in the German Football Association (DFB), the world’s largest national sports association: Football is by far the most popular sport in Germany. With several World Cup and European Championship titles under its belt, the country is also one of the most internationally successful footballing nations. 

From the “miracle of Bern” to the World Cup title in Rio

Germany’s national squad has won four World Cups - only Brazil has been more successful, scooping five titles. At first there was the 1954 “miracle of Bern”, when Germany - with Fritz Walter at the helm - unexpectedly beat the favourites Hungary in the World Cup final in Switzerland. In 1974, the national team beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final that Germany itself was hosting. Captaining the team was Franz Beckenbauer, who as Germany manager took his nation to its third World Cup victory in the final against Argentina in 1990. The most recent success came in 2014, when Germany once again beat Argentina in the final. The men’s teams have also bagged three European Championship titles: in 1972, 1980 and 1996.  

Two World Cup and eight European titles in women’s football 

The German women’s teamis one of the most successful in the world. Germany has won the World Cup twice:  in the USA in 2003 and in China in 2007. It has also picked up eight European Championship titles. Following their successes in 1989 and 1991, the women’s team won six times in a row between 1995 and 2013.  

From “summer fairy tale” to EURO 2024 in Germany

Germany has already hosted World and European football championships several times. Two years after the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany hosted a World Cup tournament for the first time in 1974; in the final played at Munich’s Olympic Stadium, the home team beat the Netherlands 2:1. 16 years after reunification in 1990, Germany played host to the football World Cup in 2006. Thanks above all to the good-humoured and peaceful atmosphere in the stadiums and on public squares and streets all over the country, not to mention the sunny weather, people talked afterwards of a “summer fairy tale”. Germany came third in the World Cup it hosted, the title being taken by Italy. In the summer of 2024, the men’s European Football Championship will be taking place in Germany - with everyone hoping for a repeat of the 2006 “summer fairy tale”.  

Germany hosted the women’s World Cup in 2011. The German team, despite being the favourites, were knocked out by Japan in the quarter-finals. Later, the Asian team beat the USA in the World Cup final.