24 September ~ Last week we reported on a Dortmund supporters' boycott of their game against Schalke on September 19. Their club won the derby 3-1 but not many away fans were there to see it
When the Borussia Dortmund players returned from their derby win, some 700 supporters awaited them. They welcomed the team with flares, bangers, loads of noise and new songs. Fans and players were now reunited – while the young Borussia team had just demolished their bitter rivals, the fans had stayed behind in Dortmund, boycotting the match. Exactly 1,604 tickets had been returned in order to protest against an unprecedented price hike.
In the days before the game Kein Zwanni für nen Steher, a campaign against the Bundesliga price rises had gained a lot of coverage in the German and international media. To name a few, Financial Times Germany, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung all ran big features on the story. "Even the League took notice, we got worldwide attention and the fans proves they can fight for something," says Marc Quambusch, one of the heads behind Kein Zwanni. Quambusch adds: "Now it is time for fans of other clubs to continue the protest. This is not a Dortmund protest, but it is of concern to other fan groups as well. We'll get in touch with whoever picks up the boycott next and make sure they can benefit from our experience."
Many other supporters have already picked up on the campaign. During Bayern Munich v FC Köln last Saturday a banner on the terraces read: "Aus Dortmund ist es bekannt, doch es bewegt das ganze Land, Kein Zwanni für nen Steher." (You heard in Dortmund first, but it concerns the whole country, 20 euros for standing – no way!) Across the grounds sloagans have highlighted the protest for the last fortnight or so. Werder Bremen's fan group "Infamous Youth" even chose to boycott their Champions League home matches due to extraordinary prices, hence the weird atmosphere during Bremen v Tottenham last week.
Football as a whole has debated the price hikes as well as the ticket surcharges put on the biggest games, and the clubs have come forward to explain their point of view. According to Borussia CEO, Aki Watzke: "The anger ignited over the €20 our fans had to pay for a standing ticket for the derby. A barrier has been crossed. There have to be tickets under €20. But the big game surcharges are different. We do not charge season-ticket holders and those who only come out to see the highlights should be asked to pay a bit more for the top matches. That is the market. Demand determines the price." This, of course, still means the travelling fans from teams like Bayern end up paying the surcharges wherever they travel.
But let's get back to last Sunday's derby and the way the fans and team celebrated together. "What is going to happen if we really win something?" asked Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer while manager Jürgen Klopp claimed it as the highlight of his Dortmund career so far. Before the game the Kein Zwanni organisers had tried to organise a public screening for the fans staying in Dortmund. After long negotiations they came to a deal late on Friday – the game would be shown at Dortmund's famous old Rote Erde ground and would be followed by Borussia Dortmund II (the reserve team) taking on Eintracht Trier. The police, however, requested 125 trained stewards for the 5,000 fans expected. Yet at the actual game there were 725 stewards for a crowd of 60,000. There was no way, even with the help of the club, to find 125 stewards within a couple of hours and the public viewing was called off. Instead 2,500 fans showed up for the reserve match, having seen the derby in Dortmund's pubs, and afterwards celebrated with the team. The protest in Germany will continue – it is off to a good start. Stephan Uersfeld www.schwatzgelb.com