“Not a few football fans proved again on Tuesday that they do not accept certain things that are happening without complaint, would like to have a say and express their opinion. In this case, it was supporters of FC Schalke 04 who took the club’s leadership into the sights with a poster campaign around the club grounds. But it showed once again that the power of fan organizations should not be underestimated.
Whether they will really change things is uncertain. But something is happening in the German fan scene. More than 1000 local umbrella associations, fan clubs and fan and ultra groups have now joined forces in Germany to form the “Our Football” alliance – and put the German Football League (DFL) and the German Football Association (DFB) under time pressure. “We don’t want to go back to a broken system. We call on clubs and associations to act before the start of next season,” reads a call published on Wednesday. The supporters are calling for “a credible decision in principle and the introduction of concrete reforms”.
The debate about a change in values in the Bundesliga business has intensified considerably since the beginning of the Corona crisis. Christian Seifert, managing director of the German Football League (DFL), had promised to set up a task force “Future of Professional Football” in the autumn after advances from the supporters. But the fan organizations want to use the summer break to initiate change. “Instead of moving further and further away from its base, fans must be recognized as an elementary part of football,” the “Our Football” alliance demands. Continuing as before the crisis should not be an option, it says: “We call on clubs and associations to act before the start of next season. This requires a credible decision in principle and the introduction of concrete reforms: the future of football must be fundamentally reshaped – close to the grassroots, sustainable and up-to-date.”
Close to the basic, sustainable and up-to-date
The first signatories are the large nationwide fan organizations such as “Our Curve”, “ProFans”, “Alliance of Active Football Fans (BAFF)”, “FC PlayFair!” and “Network Women in Football” as well as about 1000 fan clubs and groups, including numerous ultras. “Our Football” wants to hand over the complete list of signatures to the DFL and the DFB after the end of the season.
“We need to see the current crisis as an opportunity to fundamentally reshape football. The summer break must be a turning point,” said Manuel Gaber, spokesman for Our Football.
Helen Breit, chairwoman of the nationwide fan organization “Our Curve”, pointed out that at a time “when we as fans cannot express ourselves in the stadium”, an initiative like ‘Our Football’ is needed. “Everyone who signs this declaration makes it clear that we speak with a common voice that cannot be ignored. Because no matter how we live out our fan life, that’s the vision of our football. Together we can make the vision a reality,” said Breit, when asked by Die Welt that the summer break will be used intensively, not only for a debate, but also for the explicit work on certain things that arise in the discourse.