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Bundesliga: 60 years of unrivalled fan culture

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The Touchline Sports - Bundesliga: 60 years of unrivalled fan culture

2022-23 marks the 60th season of the Bundesliga. Since its foundation in 1963, the Bundesliga has encapsulated the mantra of “Football As It’s Meant To Be”. An important part of this is fan culture – every team has its own identity which is embodied by community spirit. German fan culture is recognised around the world, and many of the league’s global fans have adopted their favourite Bundesliga team based on the club’s position in society.

  • The first season of the Bundesliga kicked off 1963 and can be seen as a turning point for organised fan culture in German football. As a domestic league, the Bundesliga now offered a weekly competition containing the very best teams in the country, with fans able to support their team in competing for the German championship.
  • The World Cup 1974 in Germany was another milestone in the history of Bundesliga fan culture. World-class stadiums, such as Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, were built for the occasion and offered increased capacity for the growing fanbase of Bundesliga clubs.
  • During that time, fans did not only start to associate themselves vocally with their favourite club during the matches but also visually: in addition to scarves and flags, denim vests adorned with club patches were worn by loyal fans, and are still seen today.
  • Fans are at the core of the Bundesliga and its clubs: in 1998, the 50+1 rule was introduced, which ensures that the clubs are governed by their fans. Commercial investors are only allowed to hold 49 percent of the club. The members – respectively the fans – will therefore always retain the majority.
  • Currently, the Bundesliga clubs have a total of more than 5 million members – in Germany and around the world.

Watch: Goals, fans and super moves – the Bundesliga is back with the 2022/23 season!

A culture made for everyone

  • The stats strongly support the core of Bundesliga: that it’s a culture made for everyone. It starts with the ticket prices which are the lowest among all top European leagues. One could argue that this is one of the reasons why the Bundesliga is football’s highest attended league in the world, with an average of 44K fans per match.
  • Each stadium is packed for each game – one of the highest stadium utilisations in all top leagues – higher than 90% on average (pre-covid).
  • A culture made for everyone – this culture is also displayed in the stadiums’ architecture. Access for all is ensured everywhere – with multiple wheelchairs and visually impaired positions allocated throughout each stadium.
  • The passion of the Bundesliga is not restricted to Germany. Clubs have fan bases all over the world. For example, FC Bayern München has 4,448 FC Bayern fan clubs worldwide, where fans gather to watch their favourite players each week.

Clubs showcasing the unique fan culture of the Bundesliga

Matchday 1 of the 2022-23 season offers a number of great fixtures to kick off the campaign, including the Berlin Derby. The clubs on display this weekend are known not only for the special stories written on the pitch, but also for their histories, created by their passionate fans.

  • During the 2008-09 season, FC Union Berlin’s fans helped to build their own stadium, working on the complete refurbishment and roofing of the standing areas. More than 2,300 volunteers provided 140,000 hours of labour time and saved the club several million euros.
  • “Ha-ho-he Hertha BSC!” is the customary chant of Hertha BSC and can be traced back to the 1927 season, when 1,500 Hertha supporters were on their way to an away game in Leipzig and invented the chant on a train platform.
  • FC Bayern München is not only Germany’s most successful club on the pitch but calls another outstanding achievement its own: it is the sports club with the most members in the world – as of now, it counts over 290,000 club members worldwide who carry their passion for Bayern into the world.
  • The south stand of Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park is a crown jewel of German football. Almost 25,000 fans from different walks of life file in for every home Bundesliga game to stand in Dortmund’s renowned Yellow Wall – the largest grandstand in Europe.
  • In stadiums across the Bundesliga, the Ultras are known to be the most vocal and passionate fans. The very first Ultra movement in Germany started in Leverkusen in 1989, where Bayer 04 Leverkusen fans started to organise the support of their team. Today, Ultras are not just an essential part of the stadium experience in the Bundesliga but play an active role in their local communities: there are numerous examples of community projects, such as donation collections ahead of games or volunteer work at local institutions.
  • UEFA Europa League Winners 2022 Eintracht Frankfurt have a deep connection to Europe as their culture shows: geographically, Frankfurt is at the heart of Europe, as fans sing in the club’s anthem and many chants. The passion and commitment of the Eintracht fans was fully visible last season: drawn against Barcelona in the quarterfinals of last year’s UEFA Europa League, 30,000 Eintracht fans supported their team inside the Camp Nou, and even more watched on the streets of Barcelona. Similarly in London against West Ham, and then in Seville for final against Rangers, Eintracht fans were praised around the world for their passionate but respectful fan culture.
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