• Bundesliga

Schalke boycott station over Champions League snub

ESPN staff
December 2, 2013
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Schalke boycotted interviews with ZDF TV on Saturday after the German TV station chose to broadcast Borussia Dortmund's Champions League game later this month rather than their own.

ZDF holds the rights to show one of the two Champions League games featuring a German club on Wednesdays. The other match, as well as the two Tuesday games, are only shown live on Sky, a subscription service.

The free-to-view ZDF announced last week that on December 11 it will broadcast Dortmund's final group game against Marseille instead of Schalke's clash with Basel.

ZDF has already shown Dortmund's 2-1 defeat away to Napoli and the 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal, while Schalke have yet to be shown on the channel.

"The fate of the Champions League finalists BVB, in our perception, is more exciting and interesting for our viewers," ZDF director of sport Dieter Gruschwitz said in DerWesten. "BVB play the more attractive football and the viewing figures are better."

Bitter rivals Dortmund and Schalke both have to win their last group game to secure their berth in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Juergen Klopp's men travel to Marseille, who have not picked up a single point in the competition this season. The Royal Blues, meanwhile, entertain Basel at home, and will need to beat them to move ahead of the Swiss champions in Group E.

Schalke general manager Horst Heldt said in Revier Sport: "From our point view our game promises more excitement than the match at the bottom-of-the-league team [Marseille]."

On Saturday evening, Schalke played the Bundesliga's 'top match' - a 3-0 victory against Stuttgart. Traditionally, Sporstudio dedicates a good part of its 70 minutes to that game as the station holds the right to broadcast first pictures of the evening match on free TV.

However, the station was left without statements from the Schalke players and officials as Heldt had called for a boycott.

"The manner of their reasoning was not acceptable," Heldt said. "We did not find it attractive enough to give them interviews. Now they only get statements from the losers. I am sorry for that."

Speaking to German newswire dpa, Gruschwitz said that he hopes to end the conflict as soon as possible.

"Early next week, I will talk to Schalke and the German Football League," he said.

The German newspaper FAZ commented that, given the fierce rivalry between Schalke and Dortmund, ZDF may have made a mistake with the way they communicated the decision, but ultimately Schalke may live to regret their actions.

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