Dienstag, 15. November 2016

Warum Bullen ein rotes Tuch für mich sind

Über Red Bull Leipzig wird derzeit viel geschrieben und geredet und das ist auch gut so. Nichts wäre schlimmer als so zu tun, als sei dieses Projekt, das sich als Verein ausgibt, einfach ein normaler Aufsteiger, der sich sportlich sehr gut präsentiert.

Kritik an Red Bull Leipzig macht sogar die ansonsten auf einem höheren Niveau angesiedelte FAZ an der angenommenen Traditionslosigkeit des Projekts fest. Das ist ein Irrtum. Es geht nicht darum, dass Red Bull Leipzig nicht schon 19xy gegründet wurde und keine Fans hat, deren Väter schon zu den Spielen der "Bullen" gegangen wären. Es geht darum, dass Red Bull Leipzig eine bestimmte Tradition nicht hat - die des Fußballs der den Fans gehört.

Als ich im Alter meiner jüngsten Tochter war, hatte ich genau zwei Möglichkeiten, an Bilder meiner Lieblingsspieler zu kommen: den Kicker und Panini. Wenn ich das Logo meines Vereins auf irgendeinem Gegenstand des täglichen Gebrauchs sehen wollte, nahm ich einen Filzstift und malte es dort hin. Wann immer ich meiner Vorliebe für einen Verein Ausdruck geben wollte, musste ich etwas tun. Ich musste meine Fantasie, meinen Grips und meine Kreativität benutzen. Ganz zu schweigen von meinen Filzstiften. Und alles, was ich damit ausdrückte, kam von mir. Nichts davon war made in China!
Wenn ich heute das Logo meines Vereins auf einem Gegenstand des täglichen Gebrauchs sehen will, gehe ich in den Fanshop oder bestelle es im Internet. Es gibt dort schon alles. Nichts davon habe ich selbst gemacht. Keiner dieser Gegenstände drückt meine wirklichen, persönlichen Gefühle aus und sie sind ALLE made in China!

Das ist nicht nur im Fußball so. Für Filme, Bücher, Philosophien gilt das nämliche. Ich muss weder meine Fantasie, noch meinen Grips, noch meine Kreativität und schon gar nicht meine Filzstifte anstrengen, um irgendein Gefühl, eine Überzeugung oder eine Vorliebe für andere sichtbar zu machen. Ich kann das alles KAUFEN.

Und genau das ist es, was Red Bull Leipzig in der Bundesliga, dieser für alle sichtbaren Bühne der Gesellschaft, tut: sie nehmen unsere Gefühle und verkaufen sie uns. Alles, was ich noch bewegen muss, um etwas sichtbar zu machen, das individuell, persönlich und echt sein sollte, ist mein Zeigefinger, um auf Kaufen zu klicken.
Genau an dieser Stelle verwandeln wir uns endgültig in Homo consumens. Wenn wir DAS mit uns machen lassen.

Red Bull Leipzig hat keine Fans sondern Kunden. Und machen wir uns nichts vor - wir sind alle auf dem Weg dorthin. Aller unsere Gefühle für unsere Vereine lassen sich verkaufen. Auf Adventskalendern. Auf Babystramplern. Auf Oktoberfestdirndls! Alles gibt es mit dem Logo meines Vereins. Red Bull hat das nicht erfunden. 
Aber Red Bull führt uns unmissverständlich vor Augen, wie weit wir auf diesem Weg schon sind. Das Motto dieser Gesellschaftsform lautet: Ich konsumiere, also bin ich.

Red Bull Leipzig ist nicht der Tod des deutschen Fußballs, oh, nein. Red Bull Leipzig ist nur das Symptom. Das mit Brausemillionen zusammengekaufte Team ist nicht die Pest, sondern die Beule. An der Art, wie sich das Projekt der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert - als die schöne, neue Fußballwelt - ist überdeutlich zu erkennen, wohin unser alle Reise gehen soll. Wir dürfen alle ganz verschieden sein, solange wir unsere Verschiedenheit beim selben autorisierten Händler kaufen. Wir dürfen fühlen, was wir wollen, solange es eine Bestellnummer im Katalog hat.
DAS ist das Gefährliche an Red Bull Leipzig. Und das ist der Grund, warum die kreative Kritik am Limonadenprojekt nicht verstummen darf. Sie steht stellvertretend für eine andere, größere Kritik: der Mensch, als Person, in seiner Individualität, mit seinen eigenen Erfahrungen, Gefühlen, seiner Geschichte ist keine Ware. Es gibt Dinge, die sind weder verkäuflich noch käuflich. Fansein darf keinen Strichcode tragen. 
Wir sind Fans, keine Kunden.

Meine Gedanken auf Englisch:http://www.unusualefforts.com/modern-football-fandom/

Sonntag, 22. Mai 2016

Night blazes like Day

Our heroes are expected back
any time now, any minute
we are waiting
those of us who went with them to Stuttgart
ailed with them, fought and prevailed with them
Soared with them on to a glorious 3:1;
those of us who stayed home
watched and worried
and finally were
the first to carry the news to the city:
Mainz 05 will play Europa League!

Now, our heroes are expected back
any minute the big, red-and-white bus
will swing round the corner
come to a standstill in the milling of fans
waving and shouting their pride.

We are wandering, watching
comparing watches

passing rumours
as dusk falls
lighting cigarettes, lifting beer bottles
beacons to call them home.

As the bus crawls in
floating on raised heads and hands
the flares light up
and the crackers rent the silence
red and golden and white
searing the eyes and tearing the night
smoke rising as from a pire
burning to ashes our fears and frustrations

night blazes like day
Mainz 05 will play Europa League!

Tumbling from fire and glory
to wine and song
we shout them on our shoulders
their way up the stairs
Schmidt and Latza
Baumgartlinger and Bell
Bungert and Bengtsson
Donati, de Blasis and Frei,
Clemens and Malli
Onisiwo, Moritz
and Karius hailing the fans
Brosinski and Curci
and Cordoba Jhon Cordoba
balmed forever in a moment of glory
framed in smoke and froth
of flying beer.

Caught in a moment of jubilation
fans and players alike
dangling from whatsapp and instagram
defying the limits of a duller tomorrow.

Mittwoch, 27. April 2016

There and back again – a  Groundhopper's tale

I'm normaly not a groundhopper, a football fan visiting the most exotic venues just for the love of unintelligible languages, undisgestible food and hilarious tales about getting lost on the way to a stadium. I was born to follow and I follow my clubs, Mainz 05 and Paris Saint-Germain plus the Brazilian national team (I never said I was normal!) to some extent and to some places.
But this time and last weekend in Paris I  had an evening off and decided to treat myself to a French Ligue 2 game and that's where my groundhopper's tale begins.

Paris FC, actually something like PSG's step-brother or maiden mother, did me the favour to play local rival US Créteil in a tight battle against relegation. Paris FC occupied the last place in the table, Créteil the last but one.

I emerged from the Métro to the view of a spindly legged concrete bowl proudly sporting a banner in dark blue and black with a stylised Eiffel Tower: Home of Paris FC.

This suburban concrete charme prevailed on the inside of the stadium. 

To my surprise I wasn't the only foreigner wanting to see the mighty Paris FC. Some young men joined me in trying to come by the information where and how to get a ticket. There weren't that many possibilities, really, but one of the boxes was obviously open only for youth teams coming to see the match, another one only took credit card ...Well, we made it inside and were told to pick a place, any place in the stands. So I dived into the concrete bowl.
There were children playing with some toys obviously put there for their use. Like in Sunday School.
There was one counter offering sandwiches, soft drinks, water and – hoorray! - chips (glutenfree!)
There was a stadium speaker, doing a carioca on the pitch and announcing everything from the players to the flood lights going on like he was at Parc de Princes or Stade de France, Paris' real big venues. Football temples.
There were Ultràs prepating for a tifo.
There was everything football needs.

I'm a secrete admirer of everything ultrà, so I occupied a seat at the back of the block where the black and blue hoard mingled and were in the process of inflating blue and white balloons. More than 99 of them.


A steward spotted me there and approached me, his brow signalling worry. „Madame,“ he began and switched to English, when I produced my best nondescript foreigner's face, „this is where the Ultràs are.“
I'd noticed.
„Are you sure you want to stay here?“
I was.
I reassured him that I was familiar with Ultràs, knew how to handle them and would keep my distance. He was relieved. „Ah, you're a football fan. Yes, keep safe, they can be … pushy.“
Yes, they can.
I thanked him for his concern and prepared myself for the game.

Before the actual match a parade of youth teams marched in to triumphant music. Obviously they had been doing very well, each team was carrying trophies, and were to receive their well merited honours. I marvelled at the many girl teams and among those at the obvious number of Muslim girls, wearing elaborate headscarfs. In Black and blue, of course.
It were exactly those girls who climbed up into the stands next to me when the game began and started supporting them with a fervour short of nothing I was about to see the next day at Stade de France when PSG played OSC Lille in the cup final. Come to that, I wouldn't see many fans dancing on the seats at Stade de France.

The support was all hand (or lungs) made. 100% passion. 100% percent Paris. Unwaivering chants. Nonstop drums. Blue and white balloons waved (and later popped to make up for the lack of explosives).And an unmistakeable attitude.



Since it was a derby of some sorts, several stands were mixed scenes, but there was a large block of definite US Créteil Ultràs situated right across the concrete bowl, as far away from the PFC Ultràs as was strategically possible and advisable. They stripped their chests bare as soon as the game began and when Ultràs striptease they mean business.

Since there was no alcohol sold at the stadium, the fans had to fuel their passion simply on adrenaline and they managed to. When Créteil equalised and thus doomed Paris FC to go back to the National League, France's third tier, some guys to my left said something intensely displeasing the PFC's capo. He threw them both bodily from the stands.
They remained unharmed, but proceeded to pay back the attitude. Stewards intervened and suddenly all the PFC's Ultràs left the block to join the brawl rather than support their team.
Priorities! USC Ultràs on the far side of the stadium gloated.
The girls in the stands kept their agitated distance.
Somehow the whole thing inflated. Stewards, Ultràs, rogue fans and Muslim girls all returned to their seats. Meanwhile the attitude had meandered to the pitch where the players staged a small brawl of their own. The referee marched in and booked the contestants. Continue playing, si'il-vous plait!

The game was a typical 2nd tier match. Some good football, some abysmal one, much mediocre display, but all in all – what do you expect? Ten-a-side kicking a ball, with their feet and heads, running and flying and passing and diving for control of that round sphere that evaded and lured them and gave itself over to them them again like a capricious Parisian beauty. All you need to fall into poetry and song on a cold and windy night in Paris. I sang „Allez, Paris FC!“ with the rest.

I left the stadium with the vague feeling that, according to what my beloved and spoiled and pampered PSG had shown me over the last weeks, this may very well turn out to have been the more entertaining event of the weekend.
(It wasn't. But that's a different story)

When I left the stadium, fate caught up with me in the form of a French lady, maybe some years my senior, who asked what had been going on in the stadium and was aghast when I explained her with radiant eyes that a football game had taken place and I had actually been there. She couldn't believe it.
„You? A Woman? A woman YOUR age?!“
Merci beaucoup, sister!
She offered to pray for me and earnestly begged me to wear a Wondrous Miraculous Medal in future when visiting such dark and demonically infested places.
She was quite charming, actually, after an hour's talk, so I might. I have such a medal at home.
While I was telling her that I indeed am every bit as catholic as her, police escorted USC fans home long after the match had ended and PFC fans had dispersed.
„They are good lads, really“ I told her.
Madame the French lady looked unconvinced.

I went back to my hotel. It was freezing cold and my fingers were numb, the cold part of my body. It hadn't felt that cold in the stands. I had been watching a game in which I didn't know any player or much about the teams save for what I had checked with wikipedia right before the match. I had thoroughly enjoyed it. I really must love football.

Montag, 28. März 2016



Testgames are those meaningless friendlies played on a weekday's afternoon. About fivehundred people assembled, students and pensioners, grandparents with children considered too small for the „real thing“of a Saturday's 34.000 crowd. A handful of away-fans.

You can study every face, hear every voice.

Suddenly a single voice matters – like allegedly in elections – and the echo from three empty stands not even opened for the event, make it carry over a roughened up pitch which isn't subject to daily careful care with top league legs skimming over it in mind.

That single voice carries over the pitch in a clearly audible „So, what?“ when the first goal is conceded.
Laughter from 499 throats is iwhoseue reward.

Normally support chants do not emerge from single voices. They start at 100, slowly revving up volume. And they die at fading down to the original 100 again, not able to stand the prospect of silence a mere 100 voices among 34.000 too closely resembles.

Yet among 500, 5 make a choir. The same weighing silence that makes me fall mute when I suddenly realize I'm only one of 100 in the big theatre, now buoys me up into a defiant shout of „Auf geht’s Mainzer, kämpfen und siegen!“ The sound of my own voice, otherwise intimidating, suddenly rings strong and authentic in my ears.

At testgames every voice is needed and allowed to ring.

Testgames disperse the crowd and give the individual back her dignity
Defiance gets even more pronounced in the away-fans's voices. Separated from home-fans out of habit or necessity sparked by the opponent's name and nature (Karlsruher SC, about whom neither a charleslemagnian greatness nor a particular need for quiet can normally be noted), they sparsely people the opposing stands. Banners displayed and shouts greeting the deserved lead are answered not with the usual wave of insults and explicite suppositions about maternal profession, but rather with a grudging respect. For having turned up at all. On a weekday. For a testgame.

Die-hard recognizes its equivalent.

Another attack dies in the boots.

„Sub him!“ shouts individual dignity.

What is normally drowned in the presence of 34.000 here stands out in simple ingenuity. The witty, the spontaneous, the fit-the-moment remark, normally lost to the crowd and forlornly typed to some overseas Facebook friend lest it be lost for eternity (thus the next almost-goal being lost on the typer). „Hey, ref, we know your barber!“

The collinaesque ref doesn't respond. The 499 do. Moments of acknowledgement.

On the pitch the players are displaying various degrees of meaningless. Those whose starting place is relatively secure treat the ball with a certain air of surprise should it come their way. „You here? What shall I do with you?“
At one moment a player kneels down to retie his boots. It takes him almost two minutes and he rises to a standing ovation.

Others who are struggling to find their way – back – into the starting eleven are weaving in and out of the game with the clear demeanour of men on a mission. Impress the coach or die trying!

There is Danny Latza, all knowledgeable concerning his qualities. When he stands at the centre spot, hands on hips, chin up, shoulders lowered, self-confidence personified, the message is clear: leave me out at your loss.


On the other hand Pierre Bengtsson struggles along the sideline as if he felt the margins were his natural habitat. His gaze is turned to the ground more often than not. The ball once off his foot obviously feels abandoned and trails across the line into the nothingness of out. I feel compelled to shout something encouraging especially for him but don't trust my voice to reach him. It's easier to reach the 499.

Anyway, I don't speak Swedish.

Sub-keeper Gianlucca Curci, keen to prove first-league qualities by expressing first-league temperament causes and then protests a penalty with flying colours. As fans we hide our faces in shame over the sudden appearance of a fully fledged Thespian in a Punch-and-Judy show. He'll stay sub-keeper for some time.

Both coaches take advantage from the testgame to test. The whole squad shifts and varies over the 90 minutes. Most players,despite their rare appearance on first league team sheets are known to the fans and greeted amiably. In some cases we are mystified by shirts sporting only numbers, no names, indicating the wearer's insignificance.

This is an illusion as one Aaron Seydel unveils in a beautiful goal (assist Philipp Klement) to make it 2:2 at full time. As becomes a testgame both teams remain undefeated and on friendly terms.

I leave the stadium curiously satisfied.

This was all about me and football today. Neither DFB nor DFL nor FIFA nor, for that matter, the media had much to do with it.

And only those present know its reality.

(Mainz 05 played Karlsruher SC on Thur 03/24/16 in a friendly at Bruchweg Stadium, Mainz)

Dienstag, 1. März 2016

How to support a plastic club

You shouldn't, of course.
Plastic clubs are a waste of passion. They have money in abundance, so they can buy their fans as well as their players. They don't need you, your enthusiasm, your voice, your flag, your love. They're just after your money.
In Bundesliga Bayern Munich is the plastic club par excellence. Even their own fans hate them. Or so I've been told. Like Barcelona they have their most enthusiastic fans on the internet or the other side of the globe.
But - fairness first - Bayern isn't really a plastic club. They have tradition, were founded in 1900, worked their way up in Bundesliga and in Europe until they became plastic enough to set up an office in New York. If they're plastic, they're oak effect.

A plastic club is a mockery of the real thing. Anybody with a bank account and an ego huge enough can manufacture one. You are a Russian billionaire, a Qatari sheikh or a German software developer bored and looking for a new spare time activity which is tax-deductible (at least in the beginning)? Why not design a football club? Buy the best! Player, manager, venue, colours, logo, merchandising, fans ...China makes it possible for you in no time. You can even chuck your aged players there in the dusk of their careers. Plastic clubs are global players.

Plastic clubs don't have fans, they have customers. These people expect the club's owner to arrange for good weather for matchdays, special program for the kids, and a good result should be guaranteed anyway. You don't pay €50 a seat to see a draw.
Plastic clubs have plastic fans. They don't want the other kind. They don't want fans who start yelling on top of their lungs when things go wrong on the pitch or climb the fence when they don't. They don't like passion shown so blatantly. They don't want love, they want entertainment.
So, there is really no reason why anyone who calls himself a football lover should support a plastic club.
Except it happens.

It grows on you. Creeps up in the night like a cold. You sneeze once the first day, twice the next. Soon you'll start looking for a hankie.
First you start noticing their results, then reluctantly stream a match, but tell yourself you're just casually interested. Or you like to watch good football for a change since your local team breaks the european record for being bottom of the table with hardly any points. Or you just want to see if they're really worth the millions they have cost.
And then you see them pay. You realize there IS something of higher class to this team. They are paid in a month what your team invests in one year, they are evil, they are nouveau-riches, but they do play a fucking good football.
You're not yet a supporter, by no means. You just took the opportunity to make up your own mind from watching them play yourself instead of listening to Twitter comments. You're being objevtive. You still hate them. At least when asked.
Then comes the day you first realise a small drooping of spirit when you hear they lost. When you first encounter difficulties joining the others in joyful ranting. Ha,ha, the plastic club has lost! There's still justice under the crossbar. And you find yourself worrying whose fault it was.
Take an aspirin. It will get worse.

The day you're on your way seeing them play life for the first time is the day you are lost. 

You will realise that the plastic club is all the evil things you know it to be, but it's also a very real football club.

 Its players run and sweat and swear and celebrate like yours at home. 

And the plastic fans are more different than they look from afar waving their sponsored flags. There are gnarled old fans who were there before the sponsors came, and kids just shy of toddler-age who blurt out the names of the players in alphabetical order, shiny eyed and in an obscenely expensive shirt, but the shine in the eyes is priceless and genuine. And you remember the fair-weather fans at home who leave the stands at a comfortable 3:0, who don't even sing when the team is winning, and realize that sometimes the plastic is not in the clubs but in the people.

One day you will catch yourself saying „we“ when you speak of the plastic club. 

You nervously touch your arm. It's no more plastic than before. You're still a football fan made of flesh and blood, and you just found yourself supporting a plastic club.

Allez Paris Saint-Germain!