Werder Bremen took on Hertha Berlin in a Bundesliga game on Tuesday evening (afternoon stateside). Normally, this isn’t something we’d be too interested in, given that we’re not much of a Bundesliga-centric blog and there isn’t much significance about this match, especially so early in the season.
Yet, it’s relevant to us because of what the Bremen supporters did during the match. As the players were walking onto the pitch, a massive banner reading “FOOTBALL IS FOR YOU AND ME – NOT FOR FUCKING PAY-TV” was shown in the stadium, and was clear to everyone watching on TV – including those on FS2 in America.
Ummm ….. pic.twitter.com/Xun9EV0EDf
— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) September 25, 2018
Here’s a video featuring the banner as the players walked onto the pitch.
Once the match began, the banner was taken down.
Fans of many of the clubs playing mid-week would protest by remaining silent during the first 20 minutes of those nine matches. However, upon watching the first 20 minutes of the Bremen-Hertha match, I didn’t really notice any grating silence, and the atmosphere seemed to be about what you’d expect.
Here’s more on the logic behind the protests from the fans, via ESPN FC.
Fans of several Bundesliga clubs have announced a silent protest for the upcoming midweek matchday in a stand against ticket prices, kick off times and treatment of supporters.
“Large parts of the society are more or less excluded from professional football through sometimes absurd price hikes, adjustments to kick off times for foreign markets and a reduction of standing areas,” a spokesperson representing the interests of various Bundesliga club ultras told ESPN FC.
The coalition of fans broke off discussions with the DFB and the Bundesliga, which they felt were just for show. Both parties indicated they would be resuming talks with the fan colation.
At that time, the fans, frustrated in particular by the introduction of Monday night games in the Bundesliga and the third tier, said in a statement that they got the impression the discussions were only held “to avoid actions by all means with a media-effective offer for talks.”
Earlier this month, the coalition railed against both the DFB and Bundesliga, and discussed another issue they felt was becoming problematic – VAR, and how fans in stadiums weren’t shown the incidents being reviewed.
“While we had some success for the first time in 20 years of fan politics, the experience from the past year also showed that there was no improvement in a direct dialogue,” a spokesperson for the Fanszene Deutschland told ESPN FC. “Twenty years of dialogue with associations and clubs have shown that the only way forward is through loudness and provocation.”
The spokesperson said that they felt ultras were being forced out of stadiums, and was also critical of VAR, as fans in stadiums are alerted when a decision is taking place, but do not get to see the incident in question again.
“We’d like to think that they are seeking an overall exchange of the supporters,” the spokesperson said. “Those inside the stadium no longer play a big part in the overall communication, they are rather regarded as cash cows. And those are all issues we take an active stance against with our protests.”
It would be nice if American sports fans got pissed off at something and were able to organize protests like this, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. Imagine livid Big Ten fans smuggling in “FRIDAY NIGHT GAMES ARE BULLSHIT” banners, or Pac-12 fans sitting quietly and not reacting during the first quarter of another Saturday evening kickoff.