Whatever happened to the boycott
A slightly different version of this text appeared on WSC Daily last Friday. It sums up the “Kein Zwanni” boycott up until the Derby in Gelsenkirchen and gives a brief outlook on what will be happening next in grounds throughout Germany. The protest is far from over.
When the Borussia Dortmund players arrived in Dortmund after their Derby win some 700 BVB supporters awaited them. They welcomed the team with flares, bangers and loads of noise and new songs. The party went on for quite some time, the team and the fans became a unity. The young Borussia team had just demolished their bitter rivals. And the fans had stayed behind in Dortmund, boycotting the Derby. For the first time since the invention of sliced bread the Derby was not sold out. Exactly 1.604 tickets had been returned in order to protest against an unprecedented price hike.
In the days before the Derby Kein Zwanni für nen Steher a campaign against the Bundesliga price hikes had caused a lot of noise in German and International media. Financial Times Germany, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung to name a few ran big features on the campaign. “Even German Football League took notice of it, we got worldwide attention and fans proved they can fight for something”, says Marc Quambusch, one of the heads behind Kein Zwanni and adds “now it is time for fans from other clubs to continue the protest. This is not a Dortmund protest, but is of concern to other fan scenes as well. We will find out, who picks up the boycott next and make sure they can benefit from our experience”.
Quite a few fan scenes have already joined or at least picked up the campaign. During the Bayern vs FC Köln match last Saturday a banner on the terraces would read: “Aus Dortmund ist es bekannt, doch es bewegt das ganze Land, Kein Zwanni für nen Steher” (You heard in Dortmund first, but it moves the nation – no 20€ for standing). Across the grounds banners have highlighted the protest over the last fortnight or so. Werder Bremen fan group “Infamous Youth” even choose to boycott their Champions League home matches due to extraordinary prices. Maybe some of you have realized the weird atmosphere during the Bremen Tottenham clash last week. The football nation has been discussing the price hike topic as well as the top match surcharges in Germany. The clubs have come forward to explain their point of view. Says 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 topmatch 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”- which, of course, still leaves the traveling fans from teams like Bayern paying top match surcharges wherever they travel.
But let’s get back to the Derby last Sunday. You have heard about the fans celebrating with the team and the team celebrating with the fans. “What is going to happen, if we really win something” asked Dortmund left back Marcel Schmelzer and Manager Jürgen Klopp stated it as the highlight of his Dortmund career so far. Beforehand the Kein Zwanni initiators had tried to organize a public viewing for the fans staying behind in Dortmund. After long negotiations they had been given the heads up late on Friday, only two days before the Derby. The public viewing was supposed to take place at Dortmund’s famous old Rote Erde ground, after the match BVB II vs Eintracht Trier. Some 5.000 fans were expected. And for those 5.000 fans police had asked for 125 trained stewards. To put this into a bigger picture, during the Derby itself and for a crowd of 60.000 725 stewards were in action that day. Of course, there was no way, even with the help of Borussia Dortmund, to get 125 trained stewards within a couple of hours. The public viewing was called off, 2.500 fans showed up for the BVB II match, saw 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.