Opinion: This is not Echte Liebe | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 07.02.2017
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Opinion: This is not Echte Liebe

The violent attacks on Saturday in Dortmund are damaging for German football. Regardless of what Dortmund fans feel about tradition, violence is never the solution, writes DW's Jonathan Harding.

At the bottom of the Südtribune on Saturday, a large, yellow banner with black words read:  'For the people's sport of football, against those who destroy it.'

Dortmund fans are absolutely entitled to defend the tradition of their club. But the ugly scenes that marred one of the Bundesliga's biggest games of the season showed a demonstration of pride isn't enough for them, they now want to attack the freedom of other fans to oppose those views. Not just with banners but with makeshift weapons.

The assaults on blameless Leipzig fans must have come as a shock to the numerous people who gaze at Germany's football culture with envy.

Even before Germany won the World Cup in 2014, the country worked hard to market 'the German football experience' - and with good reason. Cheap tickets, great atmosphere, the inclusive role fans play - and the great football. Hundreds flew in for a weekend of football at Borussia Dortmund or Schalke. It was a chance to become part of a raw football community centered around Saturday afternoons.

The imposing yellow and black wall in the Signal Iduna Park is one of the main reasons so many travel to Dortmund, but there was something very different about it on Saturday. Even before the game, the atmosphere felt tenser. By the time the game kicked off it sounded louder. It turned out it was also a lot more sinister.

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

DW's Jonathan Harding

This match was an opportunity to expel a hatred that has been bubbling under ever since Leipzig arrived in the Bundesliga. Dortmund fans (and many football fans for that matter) are rightly aggrieved that this club from the east has bypassed the one rule (50+1 rule) holding the stitches of the German game together. But attacking, spitting or hurling abuse at others just for supporting their team is a world away from feeling wronged by an administrative body.

Football violence is not a new phenomena, but the motive for these attacks is. How can it be at all acceptable to harm someone because you don't like the way their team is run? RB Leipzig have satisfied the yearning of fans in the east of Germany for quality, top-flight football. They've created a new culture - one that quite frankly is preferrable to some of the moronic elements of the one they met on Saturday. Whether Leipzig have played by the rules is a different question.

German FA (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel has called for a change in the culture of violence in German football. There needs to be an end to the culture of violence, not a change. No one is asking for the emotion of football to be lost, but there is a world of difference between emotional support and physical rage.

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