The president of Borussia Dortmund and head of the DFL, Reinhard Rauball, made a surprising admission in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung: in his view, Dortmund cannot currently challenge Bayern Munich’s dominance in the Bundesliga.
As the end of a disappointing season draws near, Dortmund sit relatively comfortably in third place in the Bundesliga table, but still lie 24 points behind leader Bayern Munich. Several questions surround the future of the team, as well: who will follow interim coach Peter Stöger, who almost certainly will not receive an extension? How to stop the erosion of Dortmund's roster to wealthier clubs? And indeed what to do with the current roster of players? Besides Marco Reus, all of them could be marked men.
In light of all these difficulties, Rauball is trimming his sails:
I think we would be wise if we did not view ourselves as 'Bayern-hunters', at least not in the short term. I think we should lower our exectations somewhat and see ourselves as people trying to create a soccer future.
In particular, Rauball cited Dortmund's roster crisis as a cause for concern. The team has lost a series of its best players to wealthier clubs, even against their own wishes. In Rauball's words, “The level of the roster has been crumbling away over the years”:
We’ve lost—in no particular order—a Hummels, for a while a World-Cup-winner in Götze, Lewandowski, Aubameyang, Dembélé, Mkhitaryan, Gündogan . . . that's a team of international caliber. Replacement transfers have not been able to compensate for it.
Despite Dortmund's disappointing situation, however, Rauball effectively agrees with Uli Hoeness that the Bundesliga should not introduce playoffs in an attempt to level the playing field, or at least to raise the likelihood that a team other than Bayern Munich wins the championship. Rauball stated,
You should not change the structures simply to undermine the position that a successful club has created for itself.
Rauball instead argues that the German government itself should ensure the survival of the special brand of soccer and soccer culture that the Bundesliga has achieved. In his words,
Soccer is a cultural heritage in Germany. And the Bundesliga is a part of it. It is not without reason that I argue that the sport should be incorporated in the constitution.
As the overall quality of the Bundesliga declines behind the seemingly unassailable dominance of Bayern Munich and fierce European competition, and as rumors of a European “super-league” proliferate, putting the future of Europe’s national leagues in doubt, Rauball’s calls to save the Bundesliga and seize on the unifying power of Fußball stand an ever better chance of being heard.