From the Eintracht Frankfurt English language newsletter
There seems to be an increase regarding the violence in modern football in and around the stadia. Former Eintracht Frankfurt player Christoph Preuss, who appeared in over 125 matches for the Eagles between 2000 and 2010, spoke about violence in the game with the club’s newsletter from a player’s perspective.
netzathleten: Within the bigger picture you have as a former Eintracht player, how important are the fans and the atmosphere in the grounds to the players really?
Christoph Preuß: The fans are of course important and the great atmosphere they create is certainly well received by the players. I am lucky as I was able to enjoy the great vibe here in Frankfurt for years.
What do you actually notice on the pitch, fury about bad decisions of the referee? A player being celebrated? Or long lasting and repetitive chants?
For me it was firstly either celebrations or disaproval by booing what came through from the fans. As a player you are highly focussed on the happenings on the pitch and you don’t really get what exactly the songs are about. So it is either cheering the team on or unhappiness what the players perceive of the crowd.
How about away matches, do the home fans really have an effect on the performance of the away team?
I think Frankfurt has a fan base with a high number of supporters travelling to away matches. At the club we are very proud about the fact that so many fans travel that far again and again. Especially now that we are in Bundesliga 2. And of course it helps having your own fans behind you and not having to put up with the opponent’s support only.
Have you been a supporter yourself, maybe even as a season ticket holder?
No, I wouldn’t call myself a real fan. I watched many matches but I was never fanatic really.
So far for the positive part relating to the fans. There is a big debate going on these days about pyrotechnics and violent fans. Do the players notice the issues?
With the versatile media scene these days the players follow the whole debate. Whether on radio, TV or the internet, the current issues are discussed all around so either way the players do come across it.
Is it also talked about within the squad?
Of course there are discussions about it. I have experienced myself fans organising themselves in a blockade between changing rooms and team bus, so the team is directly affected. But of course none of us agree to aggressions, threats or violence.
What do you think about pyrotechnics?
Players do not rate pyrotechnics that highly actually, the more so as we know about the dangers connected to them and on the other hand it has an impact on the match.
When the team bus is blocked off or players are threatened, do you get scared at times?
These things do not belong to a game of football, it is disaster everytime anything like it happens. There is a willingness to act violently which we do not understand. Especially here in Frankfurt the fans could potentially impress in a positive way only, with great displays, with a fantastic atmosphere at the ground and with very active fans, in away games also as I said. That is what they should attract attention with really which is also what I say to them when we have a chat. Violence should simply be not a part of football. But then it is not a new issue which is in the debate right now, at the moment it seems to be getting more and more problematic.
You kind of changed allegiance as you are now working for Eintracht Frankfurt. Have your views on the fans changed since then?
No, I still wish for them to support the team in a vocal and cheerful way.
Which steps does the club take to create a dialogue with the fans?
We have our fan coordinators of course who monitor the issues day in day out. Within their scope they try everything they can to communicate and to mediate. They are in constant dialogue and exchange with the ones involved, but of course it is also difficult to connect to all of them in a way you would want to.
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