German fan groups quit DFB talks, promise more protests
August 21, 2018
After a weekend of protests at first-round German Cup matches, a national coalition of fan groups has withdrawn from talks with the German Football Association and promised further protests for the coming season.
In stadiums across Germany this past weekend, the same message was visible from the terraces as fans unfurled banners reading: "DFB, DFL & co. – you will hear from us!"
The messages, part of a coordinated day of action by organized supporter groups, were aimed at the German Football Association (DFB), the German Football League (DFL) and their various affiliates and sponsors, and represented a continuation of the fan protests that marked last season.
Now, following the conclusion of the first round of the German Cup on Monday night, a national coalition of fan groups has officially withdrawn from talks with the German football authorities and vowed to ramp up the protests in the upcoming season.
"It has become clear that the sport of football is to be torn even further away from its cultural and social roots and gutted on the altar of profit and greed," read a statement shared online by groups including Stuttgart's "Commando Cannstatt," Hertha Berlin's "Harlekins Berlin" and Magdeburg's "Block-U."
A year ago, the DFB agreed to open up a dialogue with supporter groups and initial progress appeared to have been made when the authorities agreed to refrain from issuing so-called collective punishments and to streamline the regulations governing the use of megaphones, drums, flags and other equipment in stadiums.
"After two meetings between fan representatives and representatives of the DFB and DFL, the initial euphoria quickly dissipated," the statement continued. "We increasingly got the impression that, as in previous decades, they were only using media-friendly words to avoid any actual action."
Instead, supporters have been left disappointed by further developments such as the introduction of Monday night fixtures in the third division, a new list of DFB punishments, a lack of transparency in the investigation into the awarding of the 2006 World Cup, and a failure to adequately address the issue of promotion from Germany's five regional fourth divisions.
"We see no other option but to end all talks with immediate effect and continue our protests inside the stadiums with greater engagement than ever," said the supporters. "We remain motivated to stand up for the basic values of football and against corruption and commercialization, and we know we can count on tens of thousands of supporters across the country.
"You will hear from us this season, too!"
The DFB and DFL responded in a joint statement on Tuesday evening, expressing their “regret” at the supporters’ decision, “especially given that the intensive and critical exchanges last winter had been considered open and constructive.”
Highlighting progress made regarding collective punishments, fan equipment and a commitment to standing terraces, the federations said: “These examples show that the DFB and DFL reacted as quickly as possible to suggestions made by supporters.”
Nevertheless, they insisted that Monday night fixtures in third division had been introduced at the explicit behest of 19 clubs for the economic benefit of the league.
“The DFB and the DFL remain open to an exchange of opinions and ideas with supporter groups,” the statement continued. “However, any exchange must be objective and fact-based. Generalized accusations against the federations or individuals are not productive.”