For German football fans, it was an inglorious start to the European Cup season: when Borussia Dortmund started the Champions League at home against FC Copenhagen three weeks ago, there were fights between the two fan camps the day before the game, in the stadium there were still flying Kick-off flares from the guest to the home block.
And after the end of the game, only the police prevented the fan camps from meeting again. Supporters of 1. FC Köln and Eintracht Frankfurt then delivered ugly scenes on their away trips to southern France. In Nice, a French fan fell five meters after serious riots with FC fans and was seriously injured. There is a video from Marseille showing two supporters of Eintracht the Hitler salute.
Michael Gabriel, coordinator of the German fan projects, took these incidents as an opportunity to Interview with the FAZ to warn of a growing proportion of violent fans in the corners. Other fan representatives contradict him. The umbrella organization for fan aid points out, for example, that football stadiums are safer than the Oktoberfest.
It is clear, however, that it is a minority. 8,000 people from Cologne traveled to Nice, but only 50 of them were involved in the attack on the French fans’ block. In the heated discussion, however, the other 7950 are often taken into clan custody. From security forces, from the media, sometimes even from club representatives. What is usually missing is a differentiated view of the organized fan scene, which has suffered greatly in the past two years.
When the Bundesliga resumed play in May 2020 without a single fan in the stadium, it was a turning point for many. Professional football earns money with the people in the VIP seats in the grandstand and those who are willing to pay 100 euros for 17 different streaming providers. Ultras and all-rounders knew that beforehand. But that of all things the derby between BVB and Schalke for the restart even only is kicked off for the TV cameras, many had not thought possible until then.
Nevertheless, they held back, only met in isolated cases at unauthorized gatherings and did not sabotage ghost games. Many Ultras are also involved in charitable work and support supermarkets and hospitals.
Now that all pandemic restrictions have finally been lifted at the beginning of this season, the fan groups have resumed the task they claim to be. Ultras also see themselves as the opposition in modern football. There’s a lot to do: The 50+1 rule seems to be on the brink again, the video evidence is still available in its current form, the World Cup will take place in Qatar in winter – and then every weekend the greatest football club in the world.
Violent riots by fans in Dortmund, France and elsewhere cannot be tolerated. They should be worked up and discussed, just like Michael Gabriel’s warnings. But the discourse should not be limited to that. The active fan scenes deserve to be listened to and not just read their banners when someone’s mother is being insulted there. They should also be allowed to provoke every now and then. That too is part of the opposition work.