Status: 09/05/2022 5:21 PM
At Eintracht Frankfurt, Schalke 04 and 1. FC Köln, fans stormed the pitch after the final whistle. There were injuries when the pitch was stormed at Schalke 04, and the sprawling celebrations are raising questions about safety concepts at Bundesliga clubs.
After a lively weekend, 1. FC Köln managed to give all the clarity: when several thousand fans celebrated their entry into European competition on Saturday (07/2022) despite the 0-1 defeat to Wolfsburg, according to available information and no response Reports of injuries so far. The grass in the stadium also doesn’t have to be repositioned – this was the biggest concern of the storied club, who spoke of imminent damage in the six-figure range if the stadium was hit by the festive crowd.
A space storm in Cologne – despite the club’s warning
For this reason, the club called on the fans before the match to refrain from attacking the pitch, but they were overwhelmed by the euphoria expected in Möngersdorf. The football club has so far only qualified for the playoffs of the UEFA Conference League – Europe’s smallest competition. After almost relegation the previous season, which was only avoided by relegation, this was celebrated as the club’s resurrection.
The stadium ceremony sparked mixed reactions from Cologne players. A portrait of Captain Jonas Hector, frustrated as he crouches on the lawn after the final whistle – is handed over – and only then is he pulled by a few fans rushing in behind him and cheering for the celebration. On the other hand, Anthony Modeste was happy to set himself apart: Cologne’s top scorer, just like the popular champion when he entered the European Cup five years ago, was carried across the field by the fans before fleeing in gear. The room, like the rest of the team.
Cologne coach Baumgart: Understanding the euphoria of the masses
FC coach Stephen Baumgart realized the euphoria, and that the fans storming the pitch were “perfectly fine”. The team is not in the mood to celebrate because the Europa League spot lost to Al Ittihad. “Inside I still have to smile,” said Baumgart, summarizing FC’s divided mood well. Managing Director Christian Keeler explained: “After very difficult times in the sport, we have a certain understanding. Our job was to channel the energy in a way that makes it peaceful. We made it happen.”
Baumgart: “When I look at the table, I can still see myself grinning on the inside.”
10/5/2022 5:15 AM
But there were similar scenes at Schalke 04 late on Saturday night, when about 2,000 fans stormed the field and celebrated the return of the Royal Blues. Two days ago, Eintracht Frankfurt supporters occupied the stadium after entering the Europa League final. An astonishing accumulation of emotions flowing among fans, which was also met with astonishment in some of the comments.
It can also be partly explained by the fact that fans have been largely banned from entering stadiums for more than two years due to the pandemic. What we missed was the special stadium experience and the partying together with the players as well. These withdrawal symptoms, as far as kitchen psychology allows, are now largely eliminated in the playing field.
Serious injuries in Schalke 04 – “Disaster prevented”
However, the significant safety hazards that surfaced last weekend when a large number of fans flocked inside – uncontrolled – should give some thought. And when fans climb over fences or jump into a concrete pit from a small height to reach the stadium, as happened at Schalke 04 on Saturday. According to reports from local correspondents, a dangerous situation arose in the meantime because spectators were gathered at the bottom of the stands by fans who moved upwards.
In a statement on Monday, Gelsenkirchen police reported 18 injuries, nine of them seriously. According to the police, the injuries occurred immediately after the match when several thousand fans pushed a standing spectator on the stadium lawn. The worst was prevented only by the intervention of several police forces, said chief of operations Peter Booth: “This space storm could have ended in disaster.”
DFB begins investigations
The German Football Association announced on Monday that the monitoring committee has launched investigations into the events in Cologne and Gelsenkirchen. Clubs have to make statements and possibly anticipate the consequences. For example, Fortuna Dusseldorf received a fine of 150,000 euros and a partial disqualification of the fans in 2012 after the chaotic conditions of the landing, when a large number of fans flocked to the field during the match.
Focus on club safety concepts
Clubs are primarily responsible for stadium security, which also includes stadium protection. Therefore, their safety concepts are now increasingly in focus. Because scenes such as Gelsenkirchen, Frankfurt and Cologne raise the question of whether the security services mandated by the clubs have enough staff in the stadium to keep larger crowds of fans in the stands. Or whether they were ever sufficiently trained, as well as about existing escape routes, in order to respond appropriately to potential panic situations.