Fan protests continue as the Bundesliga’s Monday Night Football rolls into town once more.
The Bundesliga’s introduction of Monday Night Football to German screens has been met with boycotts and bizarre fan protests against what they see as a betrayal of values.
Monday’s relegation six-pointer saw Mainz host fellow strugglers Freiburg in the fifth instalment of the Bundesliga’s much-maligned Monday Night Football calendar.
In June 2016, the German Football Association announced the introduction of five Monday night games to the 2017/18 fixture list and the decision has prompted fan protests at each of the five fixtures to date.
The inaugural Monday night match took place in the country’s financial hub, Frankfurt, where Eintracht took on RB Leipzig.
The game was played against the backdrop of shrill whistles – intended to ruin the TV viewing experience – and fan protests that caused delays to the start of both halves.
Shortly before kickoff, hundreds of home supporters left the terraces behind the goal, congregating in the aisles around the advertising boards as a means of protest. Later, as the teams emerged following the half time break, a barrage of tennis balls and streamers flooded the pitch, with an army of stewards carrying brushes and leaf blowers to clear the playing service before the game could recommence.
Similar scenes delayed play on Monday as toilet roll rained down from the stands at the start of the second period.
A week on from the events in Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund fans opted to voice their distain with conspicuous absence. A boycott of their Monday night draw with FC Köln led to a drop in attendance of over 26,000 at the Westfalenstadion, with a Dortmund supporters group spokesman labelling the fixtures as “absurd” asserting that “Football lives in the stadium — not on television!”.
This drives the supporters’ acrimony toward the new match days. The ever-increasing influence of television revenue upon the modern game has led German fan groups to regard the Monday night venture as little more than a money-making ploy at the expense of match-going supporters.
Prior to their tennis ball throwing exploits, a statement from a Frankfurt supporters group read;
“As long as they have a few more Euros in their pockets, they couldn’t care less how many days holiday we need to take to attend an away game. Marketing is their highest priority”.
The football hierarchy in Germany claim that the move is not about generating additional match day revenue for clubs, instead it intends to help ease fixture congestion for those clubs playing Thursday Europa League games.
However, Eintracht President Peter Fischer admitted in a recent interview,
“This was about money, and playing on a Monday brought extra funds into our club”.
Whatever the reason, the introduction of Monday Night Football in Germany’s top league has galvanised its notoriously fanatical fan base to voice their opinion.
With mounting focus toward fan displeasure, the Bundesliga will need to decide if Monday nights are really worth the money.