On the last days of the Bundesliga, there was a wave of indignation, incomprehension and hostility. Some games were even interrupted at short notice or even faced complete demolition. Slurs and banners with insulting hostilities were presented to the public in almost all fan curves of the 1. and 2. Bundesliga. And if you believed the media coverage of ARD, ZDF, Sport1 and Sky, you could have thought that the whole of Germany was on fire.
The culprits were very quickly found and put under general charge for these” debauchery " – the Ultras of the respective clubs. But it is by no means as simple as the German Football Association (DFB) and the DFL German Football League (DFL for short). Behind it are not taken seriously concerns of the Fans, broken agreements and the absolute ignorance on the part of the associations. The escalation stage was solely the result of missed opportunities, errors, lies and lack of correspondence.
The origin of the whole debate dates back 12 years. When TSG 1899 Hoffenheim was promoted to the Upper House of German professional football in the 2007/2008 season, many Fans were more than sceptical about the TSG construct.
With the Person Dietmar Hopp, co-founder of the software company SAP, a billionaire patron and patron of the club, the former Kreisliga club managed to rise to the highest league in just 18 years. Hopp read flow in this period, approximately 350 million euros into the Club coffers, and as a club owner, 96% of the game Betriebs GmbH. The DFB granted an exemption allowing the 50+1 rule to be circumvented. In the eyes of the Fans, a taboo was broken.
From that point on, Hopp was regarded by the Fans as the prime example that would destroy German football. Hopp and the Retortenverein Hoffenheim were a thorn in the side of the long-established district clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04. From the first Bundesliga season of TSG, there were continuous campaigns, banners and insults from the Fans against Hopp.
The then sports manager of FSV Mainz 05, Christian Heidel, commented critically in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 2007: “it’s a pity that such a team (which meant TSG Hoffenheim) takes away one of the 36 places in professional football.”
Dietmar Hopp addressed the DFB and called on the DFB to regard such a statement as discrimination and to punish it as consistently as racism. After the insults did not subside, Hopp had a special sound system set up in the Sinsheim Stadium, which served to suppress the fan chants. In the meantime, when Hopp’s portrait was shown in a crosshairs with the words “Hasta la vista Hopp” (in reference to a film poster of “the Terminator”) on a fan banner, Hopp’s lawyers filed a complaint with the police. In order to find the perpetrators, Hopp commissioned a company that spent 6 weeks observing the fan blocks with directional microphones and high-resolution cameras. Since these recordings violated the visitors right to privacy, these pieces of evidence were not allowed by the public prosecutor’s office.
Two weeks ago there was another scandal. When FC Bayern Munich was a guest in Hoffenheim, banners were rolled out again at the Stand of 6:0 for Munich and insults were directed against Hopp. This led to a 15-minute game interruption. During this interruption, the FC Bayern executive board expressed solidarity with Hopp, stepped in front of the fan curves and demonstrated unity.
Hopp was literally courted and portrayed as the sole victim. The sports coverage also included only this one-sided opinion and representation. The game was resumed and after consultation of both Teams they pushed the Ball to each other for the last 13 minutes. One can ask oneself eagerly the question whether such an expression of solidarity of the Bavarian players would also have taken place if it had stood 1:0 for Hoffenheim. And Hopp was just a Synonym for a completely different Problem.
The homemade problems of the DFB
In 2017, the then DFB president Reinhard Grindel decided to refrain from collective punishment and no longer pronounce it. The reason for this were discussions and protests of the fan communities, because due to the lack of the cause of the insults and banners in the direction of Hopp in short, the complete guest block was blocked for guest fans from Dortmund. In the end, the fan communities convinced Grindel that a collective approach would be tantamount to a general suspicion and that many uninvolved Fans would be unfairly affected by this punishment. Grindel agreed, but the collective penalty against Dortmund Fans remained, because Hopp made use of his house right.
In general, there were some questionable decisions during Grindel’s tenure, which were anything but well received by many Fans. The DFL, responsible for the marketing and performance rights of professional leagues in Germany, was mainly responsible for most of the controversial hissing Association and Fans. In close cooperation and on the instructions of the DFB, the respective playing days of the professional leagues were increasingly picked apart. Starting with the 2017/2018 season, matches were scheduled on a Friday evening, four Saturday afternoons and a Saturday evening, depending on the schedule, due to international matches on a Sunday afternoon, a Sunday afternoon and a Sunday evening, or instead of Sunday lunchtime on a Monday evening.
As a result, the respective fan camps started protest actions, in which they threw tennis balls on the playing surface during the supposedly bad seasons, the Sunday lunchtime and the Monday evening after the kick-off of the Party and thus caused an interruption of the game until the place was cleared. Club bosses as well as media representatives strongly condemned these actions and presented it as if a few rioters wanted to disrupt the football. The obvious background of these actions was not even addressed or taken up.
The DFB also adopted a security concept in cooperation with the DFL, as pyrotechnics were increasingly used in the past. This concept was to not let entire blocks of fans into the stadium and thus to proclaim a collective penalty. The fan communities answered with the “protest action 12double point12 - without voice no mood”. In each first - and second-leg encounter, Fans refused to support by singing catch for the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds.
Through the silence in the stadiums, attention should be drawn to what atmosphere would prevail in stadiums if the Fans were not involved in decisions or if they were collectively referred to the stadium. And here too, DFB, DFL, officials and media reacted with ignorance and one-sided representation. There are once again some confused and frustrated who want to ruin the fun for others.
Such protests always go too far for DFB officials when it goes against their own interests. With envy one looks at the island, where the marketing rights of the league games have meanwhile exceeded the billion-dollar limit. Where there are no Ultras, no catch songs (except Liverpool FC times) and no standing places due to much too high ticket prices. (In some blocks, however, is still confessed, the whole game over. The folders make it happen, what else should they do? See next photo). Only the upper middle class can afford a visit to the stadium. The simple people and thus also the die-hard Fan from the working class literally look into the tube.
But even in order to be able to see his club guaranteed all game days, it requires the subscription of 4 providers, because these have divided the game day Rights. A similar constellation can be found in the Bundesliga since last year. The Friday evening game will be broadcast on Eurosport. On Saturdays, Sky shows the games, the early Saturday afternoon game or the Monday game can be watched on DAZN.
More and more Commerce finds refuge in a popular sport that has not been for a long time. And through the introductions of the” Video Assistant Referee " (VAR), called Video Assistant in the German-speaking area, the last germ of Emotion is taken in the stadium, since after every goal you ask yourself the question, does an Intervention come from the Cologne cellar or can you continue to cheer and the goal counts?
But especially the DFB has lost its face with its recent behavior. Since 2008, there is a 3-Step Plan, which states when a game can be interrupted or canceled. The basic requirement came from UEFA, which wanted to combat the rising racism in European stadiums with this Plan. And this step plan was now used in the insults against Dietmar Hopp. The insult of a rich, white, old man was enough to interrupt a game.
The black player Jordan Torunarigha, who was born in Chemnitz in 1997, was insulted and humiliated with monkey sounds and radical right-wing sayings during the game, however, was probably not enough for the DFB to use the step plan. Likewise the"son of a bitch” taunts to Timo Werner after his swallow in the penalty area remained unsuspected. And at the Derby Hoffenheim against Freiburg, the Hoffenheim curve caused a scandal when it published the contemptuous banner “Fotzen Freiburg”. Neither Hopp nor DFB apparently found anything bad about it.
The true face of the Ultras
Not only protest actions, but also campaigns against homophobia, racism, discrimination against minorities and anti-women statements were initiated and carried out by the respective Ultras. They also joined together against Hooligans. Again and again there were chants of individual small groups, which were directed against women, disabled people, gays and lesbians or foreigners, which the DFB wanted to oppose, but had never really succeeded. The Ultras and fan communities themselves ensured a banishment of such small spirits from their curves, which the DFB, however, never really acknowledged. For the officials, the Ultras were and still are the evil in the stadiums. A Shame!!
Ultras see themselves as a living culture. They tune the catch songs, develop choreographies in stages that achieve recognition and admiration all over the world. Ultras are also committed to international fan exchanges by inviting supporters from other European countries to match days. Due to the commercialization in the major leagues of England, Spain and Italy, a small tourist attraction has now formed. Nowhere in Europe is the catch singing and the performance of choreographies lived as in Germany’s leagues.
However, there is also the other face of the Ultras. The disgrace of a descent is accompanied by protest actions that are anything but justified and acceptable. Masked figures ignite Pyros or smoke grenades, storm the courts or riot in the city or stadium after the match. These are also Ultras, a group of fanatical supporters who put their whole heart and soul into their club and let their frustration run free with the same intensity. The shadow side of lived fan culture.
All that matters is the money
All these events, incidents, events and decisions lead to only one thing. Football, as the general Fan knew it, will not exist any more so soon. Fans in the stadium have not been important to clubs for a long time-and certainly not to the DFB. Just by the distribution of the fixtures on Sundays ensures great incomprehension at the base-the amateur football. Because from Kreisliga to Landesliga to Oberliga these clubs are dependent on Sundays. Here, every paying guest counts for the balance.
Until the 1990s, Sunday was sacred and dedicated only to amateur football. This has changed completely with the new application times. More and more clubs of the lower leagues give up their operations due to a lack of attendance and financial support. The foundation of the DFB, the largest sports association in the world, is crumbling and getting more and more shaky.
The main focus is only on the professionals of the top class. Since the really big money is earned. This is about the coveted meat pots of Europe, the Champions League or the UEFA Europa League. It seems as if the” mob " better stay out of the stadiums or preferably completely out of this Sport. Medially is only softened. Questions about the World Cup in Qatar and The Associated inhumane conditions of the workers are not addressed. Instead, the Christmas World Cup is being celebrated. The last World Championships in athletics in Doha, a neighbouring caliphate, showed everyone what the national teams will achieve in Qatar in 2022. Unbearable heat of more than 40 degrees in the shade, empty crowds and increased athletes who have collapsed due to the extreme conditions. Profit over people!
The recent development in the spread of the Coronavirus in Europe also gives the impression that the health and well-being of visitors as well as athletes are only marginal. Direct reference is made to how high the loss will be if one plays under exclusion of the public. Here, too, more and more Fans are shaking their heads when it comes to enforcing the DFB. However, it will be questionable if the first professional player has infected himself with the SARS-Covid-19 and the entire league system is at stake for a long time.