Episode 12: Football and the Munich Olympics

Olympic Stadium, Munich

Last Updated on January 9, 2024 by Marian Jones

This post is for sports fans wondering what Munich has to offer them. We cover the Munich Olympics and the city’s two great football clubs, giving a little history and ideas on places to visit to find out more. Stories including the Munich Air Disaster and the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics are told on the podcast, together with information about where they are memorialised in the city today. Finally there are ideas for finding out how to participate in sport during your visit to Munich, including hiking and winter sports, plus something on the city’s ‘wellness’ facilities.


The best known Munich team is Bayern München, originally founded in 1900, but shunned during the Nazi era as ‘the Jew’s club’. Things really took off in the 1960s, when 3 great players – Sepp Maier, Gerd Müller and Franz Beckenbauer – helped them win a slew of Bundesliga and European Cup titles and 6 Bayern players were in the German team which won the World Cup in 1974. Another successful phase was during the 1990s when Beckenbauer, known as ‘der Kaiser’ (the Emperor!) coached them and in 2005 they moved to the Allianz Arena where you can visit their F C Bayern Museum, telling the history of the club and running regular ‘meet-the-stars events.

Munich’s ‘other’ team, TSV 1860 is much older, founded – you guessed! – in 1860, originally as a ‘Turn und Sportverein’, that is a gymnastics and fitness club. They play in the Bavarian colours of pale blue and white and have also won the Bundesliga, but are usually somewhat in Bayern Munich’s shadow. Both teams play at the Allianz Arena, the futuristic ground built for the 2006 World Cup. It was designed by the same architects as London’s Tate Modern and is clad in pneumatic panels which light up in red or blue according to which home team is playing and in white when used for international games. You can visit the Arena, nicknamed the ‘Schlauchboot’, or inflatable boat.

the munich olympics

Munich’s Olympic Stadium was built for the 1972 Olympics on the ‘Trümmerberg’, or ‘mountain of rubble’ created during the clear-up of the city after World War II. It was a symbol of Germany’s rebirth as a democratic nation – the western half at least – and was a modern design including a stadium (where Germany won the World Cup in 1974), an Olympic Hall, and a Swimming Pool complex, featuring steel cables and glass panels designed to let in plenty of light and all overseen by the symbolic Olympic Tower. The Munich Olympics saw the triumphs of Mark Spitz in the pool and Olga Korbut in the gymnasium. Tours of the stadium are available, some focussing on sport, others on architecture.

Sport in Munich will always be linked to 2 terrible moments in history: the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, when 8 Manchester United players were among the dead; and the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by gunmen from the Black September terrorist group at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Both stories are told on the podcast, along with details of where in the city they are memorialised.

munich for sports fans today

There are plenty of opportunities to watch top level sport in Munich. There’s the football, of course, and also the Open Golf Tournament in August and the Tennis Open in the spring, both sponsored by BMW. If you want to do something sporty yourself while in Munich, there is a wide choice of options: hiking trails in the nearby Bavarian Alps, plenty of skiing, ice skating and lots more, summarised here. Finally, what the Germans call ‘Wellness’ is very popular in Munich and details can be found here.

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Links for this post

F C Bayern Museum
Allianz Arena Tours
Olympic Stadium Tours
Munich Open Golf Tournament
Bavarian Open Tennis Tournament
Sports opportunities in Munich
Hiking Trails
Ice Skating
Sporting opportunities in Munich
Wellness facilities

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