Opinion: Frankfurt fan defiance demands respect | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 20.02.2018
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Opinion: Frankfurt fan defiance demands respect

The Eintracht Frankfurt fans' protest on Monday night was just one example of German supporters standing up to protect this country's particular football culture. This deserves respect, writes DW's Jonathan Harding.

A group of thinking fans fighting for a move away from over-commercialism, at a club whose top members recognize their fans' voices, in a diverse city coming together to support a team in the form of its life. It's German football fan culture at its best.

The protest from Eintracht Frankfurt fans about Monday night games is just the latest example of German football supporters fighting to retain the game they love. Banners with statements like "Eintracht say no to Mondays," or  "Football is for and of the supporters" and "We won't be taken for a ride" stretched across the stands. An avalanche of tennis balls descended onto the field at halftime and streams of toilet paper blanketed one of the goals.

Not only does this a group disagree with what the Bundesliga is becoming, but these supporters are actively trying to change it.

This is not an isolated incident. Protests against VAR and the attempts to abolish the 50+1 rule have also been vocal and varied in German football. Only recently, both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich fans supported lower-league club Babelsberg in their "Nazis out of the stadium" protest.This is a fan culture deeply protective over what it has. 

Deutsche Welle Englisch Fußball Jonathan Harding (DW/P.Henriksen)

DW's Jonathan Harding

Why? Because football has always been about Saturday afternoons, affordable tickets, fan power and teams that practice and preach the development of young players. The German Football League's (DFL) decision to slowly but surely make the Bundesliga a Premeir League 2.0 is already threatening to change all of that.

The jaws of greed are hard to shake once their teeth have sunk in. It seems that Monday nights aren't just here to stay, but that they're the beginning to bigger and perhaps even more dramatic changes to the way German football is played and experienced.

When that happens, everything that makes the game so special in Germany — the matchday experience, the remarkable attendance numbers, the proud and defiant fans — will be left in people's minds rather than seen on social media timelines. Until then, these fans deserve respect for standing up for what they believe in. While it might be a fight in vain, no fight can be won with silence.

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