Michael Schwarzer is used to changing. The former CEO of the first division football club Frankfurt Universe has worked for the American Football Association Germany (AFVD) for three years. At the time, the association hired him because Schwarzer was to advance to the final of the title in the German Football League (GFL). The game in the so-called German Bowl is something like German football’s business card.
In Frankfurt, the event was to return to the strength it once had in the 1990s, when more than 20,000 fans came to watch the final. It was Schwarzer’s task to make this possible in the town on the Main. The mission was successful – although no Frankfurt team participated in the final of the World Cup arena because Universe had missed the qualification for the highlight of the season. Nearly 21,000 fans cheered on the 10: 7 victory for the New York Lions from Braunschweig over the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. The German dish had regained its luster.
Schwarzer has been the new CEO of AFVD since the beginning of the year. Last year, the league final in the Frankfurt Arena was a success under his leadership – again without Frankfurt participation, but with more than 14,000 spectators, it was remarkably well attended despite pandemic times. That Schwarzer had landed a new name sponsor for the league and the final in the form of beverage producer “Shark Water” were further arguments in favor of the 34-year-old former competitive athlete.
Hard sport on runners
Schwarzer has not been active on the football field, but in another sport where helmets are used: ice hockey. He started as a teenager and was so gifted that he managed to get into EV Füssen ice hockey boarding school. “When I went there, I still had the dream of earning a living as a professional,” he says. But he quickly noticed: “Shit – there are so many better than me.” For example, there was a man named Thomas Greiss in the goal on his team. Today he plays for the Detroit Red Wings in the National Hockey League. “I was just not that good.” Nevertheless, Schwarzer remained true to the tough sport of skating, playing for the Frankfurt Lions that year, following the bankruptcy of Lions professional teams in 2010.
The fans came in droves to the rink on the Ratsweg – even though the Lions only went in search of the puck and points in the regional league. Schwarzer quickly became an audience favorite. In the first eight games for Hessians, he was always the player to score the first goal for Frankfurt. Such was also the case in the first home game, where Schwarzer quickly brought his team a 1-0 lead against Iserlohn. “I’m very grateful for this time,” said Schwarzer, who was able to make important contacts in ice hockey, which he still enjoys today.
The road to football official
Michael Bresagk, the former Lions professional and Löwen partner, paved the way for “Blacky” to become a football officer after he had to give up ice hockey for health reasons. “I had problems with an intervertebral disc and was faced with a choice: surgery or the end of my career.” After only being used a little as a player, in 2012 he decided to hang up his skates. The first step from puck hunter to clerk was done.
The German Football Association values Schwarzer’s flair for managing events. The bankruptcy he slipped into with Universe in 2017 seems to be over. Under his leadership, the football club had lived extremely beyond capacity and was heavily in debt. The insolvency administrator had saved the club, which is still competing in the GFL under new management. Schwarzer’s Universe Chapter ended on December 31, 2018, and he joined AFVD in January 2019.
In the association, which still has its business premises at the German Olympic Sports Federation in Otto-Fleck-Schneise, Schwarzer should continue to take care of the development of the final of the German Bowl, promote digitization and optimize cooperation with the many volunteers. employees. Challenging tasks await. The World Cup in American football will be held in Germany next year. Until then, the national team must be revived after a few years without German selection. The corona crisis and the high cost were the reasons for this, says Schwarzer, who has already had talks with potential sponsors on this topic.
The expensive live broadcasts of the GFL games on television are another important point in his future work. Of course, he knows the attraction of the European League of Football, which is a tough competitor to the GFL in a very small market. “The new league is not helping anyone as it is now,” said AFVD’s CEO. The selection of high-class players in Germany is actually too small for two competing leagues. “And it’s our clubs that train the young players.”
Schwarzer, meanwhile, has learned that few industries are as fast-paced as sports. It is also advisable to remain mobile for officials. AFVD will soon move to new business premises at the northern end. The hope of an early, busy office life is certainly not just in this industry. For in times of rapidly rising corona numbers, almost all of the association’s employees are in the home office.