1. FC Union Berlin this week showed why they are a club that a vast amount of English people identify with and love. They are also a club that are the envy of most true football fans. Why? They stood up (pun intended) to the authorities and refused point blank to be bulldozed in to signing a proposal concerning security at German football games. A proposal that extended banning orders and placed the removal of standing areas on the table. The spurious and devious rhetoric of the summit title, 'For Football, Against Violence' tells its own tale. Who in their right mind is not for football and against violence? A tale of DFB snakes and under-hand tactics. The voice of fan groups sadly non-existent. Loyal fans lumped in with a violent minority.
The 'Security Summit', ironically held in Berlin, was an attempt by the DFB (German Football Association) to bully clubs in to signing a proposal that they had seen less than 24 hours previously. Every club in the top three tiers of German football signed the proposal with only Union having the fortitude to abstain and not grace the DFB with their presence to boot.
"A code that will affect the behavior of the Union fans can only be developed and implemented jointly with them," explains Dirk Zingler, president of 1. FC Union Berlin, adding: "FC Union Berlin is always ready to help find a solution to the non-euphemistic problems within and outside the stadiums."
The summit comes on the back of the well-documented Fortuna v Hertha play-off game last season and in addition the DFB were fined at Euro 2012 for the behaviour of a minority of German fans. Whilst displaying a Neo-Nazi flag is deplorable, throwing pieces of paper at the Portuguese and letting of fireworks is hardly cause for a fine. Unless you're a governing body with duel-standards and are rotten to the core. Added to this were a number of incidents last year in which, Union and others, faced fines from the DFB.
In a week where a German "financial expert" (a label so tarnished it is akin to a gypsy looking in to a crystal ball) claimed that there was significant room for an increase in prices at Bundesliga matches, we also have the DFB suggesting that German football goes further towards the English model. Ultimately, seats mean a price increase. Price increases mean a change in demographic. A change in demographic means more money. If history tells us anything it is that the English model has killed the game in England. The formation of the Premier League was suicide fuelled by greed. Working class fans are now more likely to be in the pub than in a shiny plastic seat. Youngsters grow up watching TV rather than being taken to see their local side.
Zingler shuns the executive seat and prefers to stand at Union Berlin games. Perhaps it is this His stance is a microcosm of what makes Union special. Politicians and Football Associations will always use the fear of violence or a tragedy to sneak in new legislation. In wider society you only have to look at airport security to see that. Football Associations are no better than politicians. Most are out of touch with fans and pay only lip service to fan forums - as clearly demonstrated by the disdain shown to fan groups this week. They were not welcome at the Intercontinental hotel where the DFB were doubtlessly gorging on a delictable feast of modern cuisine. Modern football is what they want. Real football is what Union Berlin and its fans want.
Union Berlin banner from the game against Eintracht Frankfurt last season when away fans were banned. Subsequently, Union fans helped the Frankfurt faithful acquire tickets and they stormed the away end early in to the first half. Both sets of fans chanted together against the DFB
For a wider view read this blog piece by @valedave