Imagine Packers and Bears fans marching arm in arm to protest the starting time of their next Sunday Night Football matchup. Seems pretty unlikely, but German soccer fans did just that this weekend, putting aside their on-field differences to send a message to the nation’s sports big wigs.Roughly 4,000 soccer fans representing over 50 German clubs marched through Berlin yesterday, putting aside their normal cutthroat behaviour to peaceably demonstrate against what they feel is increasingly unfair treatment by police and league officials. At issue are the rising cost of ticket prices, unfriendly start times, and what they believe to be overzealous police tactics at matches.
The irony is that Bundesliga fans are actually admired by other nations, as tickets are priced far below the average cost of Europe’s other major federations, like Spain’s La Liga and the England’s Premier League. But the Germans have recently introduced tiered pricing–a tactic increasingly familiar to American sports fans–where they charge more money for games again bigger opponents. The Bundesliga has also introduced a new Saturday night spotlight game, breaking the long tradition of Saturday afternoon start times.
Fans see all these moves as part of trend that would make the sport less accessible to the young and poor, robbing the next generation of a chance to fall in love with the game. The march was an effort to head these issues off at the pass and while we love their initiative, it’s a little difficult to imagine American fans becoming quite so organised in defence of their rights. Not that we wouldn’t be out there marching against the BCS tomorrow, if we thought it would help.
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