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THE German Bundesliga is due to restart on Saturday, but some supporters are against the move to bring football back so soon.
As reported in last weekend’s Morning Star, many groups of ultras, the hardcore fans who line the curves of German football stadiums, giving the leagues their unique feel, are against the restart of football in the current situation.
Fortuna Dusseldorf are one of five Bundesliga clubs who remain owned completely by their supporters or members, and this week the Dusseldorf Ultras issued a statement regarding football’s return.
“Even with the resumption of fixtures, for us as Dusseldorf Ultras, the season has ended,” it read. “Though the consequences of our decision will be tougher than is revealed in this statement, the season has no value for us in the current circumstances.”
During the coronavirus crisis, Dusseldorf Ultras have called upon fans to help those in need including the elderly, high-risk groups and homeless people who have been affected by the lack of income from selling the fiftyfifty magazine, similar to the Big Issue.
They encouraged donations of groceries, tents and sleeping bags for homeless people and asked supporters to continue buying fiftyfifty if they can.
This sense of social responsibility is one of the reasons the Dusseldorf Ultras believe football should not restart at this time.
They believe that games are not restarting for sporting reasons but due to inescapable ties to TV revenue and gambling companies, and the constant attention these require.
“The current situation is not a football crisis per se,” the statement continues.
“Football has no problem taking a break, and in the days, weeks, or months ahead, kids will be back on the streets all over the world kicking balls and cans.
“On the pitch and on the streets, the unique talent of professional footballers is not lost.
“In contrast, professional clubs have manoeuvred themselves into a dependency on TV revenues. But this is not our crisis, this is the crisis of professional football. A crisis of a lack of advertising revenue for investors.
“The players on the pitch no longer know why they are competing. In the worst cases, an infection which targets the lungs could lead to the end of a career.
“The resumption of the season is not about the best tactics, the best line-up, or about winning, but about attention so that TV revenue pours in. It’s about betting portals and investments that just have to pay off.”
Player and supporter safety has been top of the ultras’ priorities. As well as highlighting the risks posed to players in these circumstances, they have also discouraged fans from gathering in groups, not even to protest against the recent decisions they may disagree with.
They have also said that no element of fan presence should be artificially included in these games behind closed doors, specifically mentioning cardboard cutouts of fans, and presumably including the terrible idea being suggested in some countries to add artificial fan noise on TV broadcasts, which would be an insult to supporters.
“As ultras, we not only bear responsibility, we also share solidarity with society,” the statement from the Dusseldorf Ultras concludes.
“Solidarity that we take seriously and that is important to us. Especially those who are in at-risk groups and dependent on the fact that the coronavirus does not spread further.
“We, therefore, ask fans not to come to the stadium or to call for public meetings. Whether you draw the same conclusion from the situation is, of course, open to you.
“Because we have ended our season, we now have time. Time to think about how we will react when stadium gates are once again open to everyone.”
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