Why Mercedes and the DFB are parting ways

As you have probably already heard, the partnership between the DFB — the German soccer association — and Mercedes-Benz will not be extended beyond the end of 2018. It will be the end of an era.

Mercedes-Benz has been a partner of the DFB since 1972 and its general sponsor since 1990. The DFB has achieved a great deal during this time. The men’s national A soccer team has won the World Cup three times since the start of the partnership, and the women’s team has won the World Cup twice. The men’s team has won the European Championship three times, and the women’s team has won it eight times.

Radical change and a fairytale summer

However, there have also been some difficult times — for example, the European Championship tournaments in 2000 and 2004. They were followed by a radical change that was closely connected with Jürgen Klinsmann and Jogi Löw. It took a lot of hard work to make the 2006 World Cup tournament a fairytale summer, but it marked the beginning of a success story that was ultimately crowned with the World Championship title in 2014 by the player generation headed by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm. It was fantastic for Mercedes-Benz to be part of it all!

The partnership with the DFB will end in 2018

It’s hard to imagine the team’s training jerseys without the Mercedes-Benz star. Nonetheless, this long-standing partnership will end on December 31, 2018. Many of my colleagues have been talking to me about this topic for days now, asking,

What’s going on? Why don’t you simply renew the contract?

For the first time ever, the DFB had issued a call for tenders concerning its partnership with automakers for the period after 2018. All interested automakers could make their bids. Procedures like these are also commonly used to award TV rights in soccer.

Common sense and a sense of proportion

For example, the broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League were recently awarded in this way. Here too, there was a bidding process, and it didn’t end with the ZDF public-service broadcaster receiving the contract. As a company, we’re not responsible to the people who pay their radio and TV fees, but we do have to carefully assess every one of our sponsorship commitments with a view to our employees and shareholders. That requires common sense and a sense of proportion.

The package that was offered by the DFB included fewer benefits than the previous one, but in order to receive it we would have had to pay a significantly larger amount. And even if we had received the contract, we would not have continued to be the general sponsor. Instead, we would have been only one of several partners. Nonetheless, we participated in the bidding process, which ended with Volkswagen receiving the contract. That’s a painful outcome for every soccer fan in our Group — including me.

Proud of our partnership since 1972

Now we have to roll up our heads — and our sleeves too, of course.

That’s a quote from Lukas Podolski, and that’s exactly the spirit in which we have to continue our sponsorship activities. That’s because this ending offers us the opportunity to make a new beginning. And you can rest assured that we will use this opportunity!

We’re proud of our decades-long successful partnership with the DFB, and of course we wish the national team every success with their new automotive Partner.

Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.