Amateur football: black money of possibly 500 million euros

Even in the district league, more than one in three respondents collects

Among the participants were 8085 male players aged 18 to 39 years. Of them, 60.2 percent have received money to play football in an amateur club once or more. They received a monthly fixed amount and/or point and victory bonuses. 36.9 percent of them stated that they received money for playing football in the sample month of October 2020.

According to the survey, it is by no means unusual to earn money with football in the lower leagues either. In the fifth division, 89.9 percent of all players are paid. In league 6 it is 76.6 percent, in the seventh league 50.9 percent. In the eighth league, in some state associations of the DFB this is the district league, in others the district league, 36.4 percent of the players still receive money for their work for the club.

Extrapolation: half a billion euros in suspected black money per year

If one assumes that Germany’s amateur footballers receive about the same amount of money on average as the participants in the nationwide survey, the extrapolation of the data for the example month of October 2020 results in a huge sum. Around 100 million euros were paid to amateur players in Germany this month. Assuming that no football is played for about two months a year, this amounts to one billion euros over the course of a season.

If one also assumes that the proportion of hidden payments (“black”, “in the envelope”) is as high as the players stated in the survey, then 50 million euros would be paid in alleged black money per month, i.e. 500 million euros per season.

The statistics professor Andreas Groll from the TU Dortmund evaluated the survey for the ARD. Groll says an online survey of this kind can’t be representative, of course. However, the survey was “statistically and scientifically clean”. After examining the extrapolation, the statistics laboratory of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich certifies that it is “correct and comprehensible” under the assumptions made.

Player contracts – a rarity in amateur football

The ARD presented the results of the survey to the renowned Munich sports lawyer Thomas Summerer. Summerer prepared a legal opinion on this. He told ARD that the survey would “trigger a small earthquake, because if there are slush funds, then that’s a criminal offense per se, namely infidelity.”

Associations that are caught paying illicit money are threatened with “the withdrawal of their non-profit status”. And even a player who accepts black money could, according to Summerer, “get into massive problems”. He could receive “a prison sentence of up to five years or a fine for tax evasion”.

According to the DFB rules of the game, amateur footballers may not receive more than 250 euros per month in reimbursement of expenses and/or expense allowances. If more money flows, an amateur contract must be concluded. Taxes and social security contributions are then due here. Despite the high cash flows, however, the number of amateur contracts in amateur football is negligible.

In the 2020/2021 season, there were just around 8,500 amateur contracts for more than 700,000 amateur players, according to the 21 state associations of the DFB. A patron from Hesse, entrepreneur Gerhard Klapp, told ARD that there were “few amateur contracts” in the clubs he supported. He explained that with the additional costs and confirmed that going the official route is expensive for the clubs.

Handyman services or bogus mini-job for the girlfriend

In the ARD survey, almost every fifth player (18.2 percent) stated that they had already been rewarded with goods and services for playing soccer. The clubs or sponsors reward the player’s commitment on the pitch by providing them with an apartment or a car, for example.

Some amateurs also receive handyman services, and sometimes the girlfriend gets a mini-job that is not performed but paid for. A common practice of rewarding a player is also to pretend to hire him as a youth coach – but without coaching any team.

The German Football Association is fundamentally critical of pay in the lower leagues. A DFB spokesman told ARD that payments in the lower amateur leagues were the “wrong way”. For the 21 state associations under the umbrella of the DFB, however, “control is not possible”. The internal regulations in the clubs are “a matter for the clubs that are independent in this respect”. The framework for this is set by the legislature.

The data from the survey shows that money is hardly ever paid at amateur level in women’s football.

Stand: 19.01.2022, 06:00

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