From north to south, east to west – football is everywhere every weekend in Germany. Why not integrate it into your city break?
A love for beer, hearty food and – football. Yes, the UK and Germany have quite a few things in common. Now this is not the place to mention the colourful history of the two countries’ encounters on the pitch, but rather to encourage you to include a Bundesliga match in your visit to Germany. For with a little bit of timely planning, tickets can be obtained without too much cost or hassle.
A bit of organisation is necessary, though. Since the World Cup in 2006, the Bundesliga has received an extra boost resulting in the majority of tickets being sold as season tickets with only a small amount left over to be bought individually for each match. It is always possible to get tickets via sites such as Viagogo or Eventim, even at short notice and at very reasonable prices, in particular for standing terrace tickets. The latter may have gone in the UK, but they still exist in Germany and are the place to find the club supporters. The west stand in Kaiserslautern or south stand in Dortmund are legendary. Specially priced tickets for families in family stands are available as well.
German clubs are still in the hands of the fans
For many, the country’s football heart traditionally beats in the Ruhr area, Germany’s former industrial powerhouse with a long history of clubs with passionate working-class support such as FC Schalke 04 or Borussia Dortmund. The Westfalenstadion in Dortmund is also Germany’s biggest stadium with space for over 80,000, and the so-called ‘Arena auf Schalke’ in Gelsenkirchen heaves with more than 60,000 football fans when Bundesliga matches are on. As the only stadium in Germany, the Arena also features a roof that can be completely closed so that rain or snow cannot detract from the experience.
By the way, unlike in the UK, German clubs are still in the hands of the fans (i.e. the club members) and legal precautions have been taken to avoid selling out to international owners. Or as the Kaiser, Franz Beckenbauer, once put it: “If a Middle-Eastern Sheikh comes to buy Bayern Munich, he could buy 49 per cent. Fifty-one per cent must stay in Germany with the club. That law came about because of the developments of international football.” So there you have it.
In terms of football infrastructure, Germany is profiting from the legacy of the 2006 World Cup, i.e. some 21st century football temples such as the Allianz Arena in Munich or the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg. Altogether, 12 of the 18 stadia are of World Cup standard. And there’s a lot around the actual football to be seen as well, such as the Deutsches Fußballmuseum (German Football Museum) that was opened in Berlin in 2009 with 10,000 exhibits on the history of football. Or follow the Deutsche Fußballroute (German Football Route) in North Rhine-Westphalia to discover Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bochum or Dortmund from a different point of view. You will see that football is just as close to the nation’s heart as it is in the UK, with the possible exception of how to handle penalties. But we don’t want to talk about that now.
German Football Museum: www.dfm-berlin.de (site only in German)
German Football Route: www.dfr-nrw.de (site only in German)