For many the Südtribune at the Signal-Iduna Park is a symbol of all that makes the Bundesliga great. The atmosphere created by the massed ranks of standing Borussia Dortmund fans behind the goal creating a wall of sound is what German fan culture is all about. However, the ‘Yellow Wall’ will fall silent on Saturday following the German FA’s decision to punish BVB for recent crowd trouble .
Following the recent Bundesliga clash with RB Leipzig (the club everybody seemingly loves to hate), the Deutsche Fussball Bund (DFB) opened disciplinary proceedings against Borussia Dortmund with the threat of a complete closure of the Südtribune a real possibility. That possibility has sadly for football now become a reality.
RB Leipzig, while taking the first half of the season by storm, still engender nothing but contempt from large sections of the Bundesliga supporting public and this was highlighted in stark terms on their visit to the Signal-Iduna Park at the beginning of February.
There were skirmishes outside the stadium with both fans and police officers receiving injuries, but it is what happened inside the stadium that has irked the DFB and lead to the closure of the famed Südtribune.
Banners unfurled during BVB’s 1-0 win were less than complimentary about the visitors from Leipzig with some overstepping the mark of what is considered acceptable with one calling for Ralf Rangnick to hang himself.
“Numerous banners and slogans with defamatory content were held up on the Dortmunder Südtribune,” read the statement. “In addition, filled beer cups were thrown and Leipzig players were targeted with a laser pointer.
“The control committee of the German Football Association calls for the closure of the south stand in a Bundesliga match (and a) 100,000 euros fine for Borussia Dortmund. The committee has now submitted a corresponding request to BVB.”
In isolation, a rap on the knuckles could have sufficed, but Dortmund are not first-time offenders. With similar incidents occurring earlier in the season and with a suspended sentence of closure hanging over the club from July 2016, there was always a real chance that the famed Yellow Wall would fall silent with a DFB ban.
“Such a denigration and defamation of individuals and clubs through banners and abusive chants cannot be accepted and must be sanctioned,” control committee chairman Anton Nachreiner said, adding that the incidents required “massive intervention” from the DFB.
News this weekend that a bus load of BVB fans were stopped by police on the way to the match with Darmstadt and found to be in the possession of pyrotechnics and weapons only served to strengthen the case for action to be taken against the Dortmund Ultras and in particular the new group “0231 Riot” who have increased their influence of late.
While nobody wants to see an empty Südtribune and the loss (albeit for one match) of one of the Bundesliga’s most iconic sights, it seems the German authorities have decided enough is enough and to clamp down and make an example out of BVB.
An eerily empty Südtribune will provide for quite a unique atmosphere at the weekend for the visit of VfL Wolfsburg — just not unique atmosphere the Yellow Wall is famed for.
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