35,000 pay respects to footballer Enke

Around 35,000 people took part in a solemn procession through central Hannover to pay their respects to Robert Enke, the star goalkeeper who committed suicide this week, police said Thursday.

35,000 pay respects to footballer Enke
Photo: DPA

Fans marched on Wednesday night from a memorial service in the centre of the western German city to the Hannover 96 stadium where Enke played. Outside the ground there were large numbers of candles, flowers and cards.

The club said on Thursday it was considering postponing its next scheduled match at Schalke 04 on November 21.

“It’s not certain yet, but we are considering it,” said Hannover’s manager Jörg Schmadtke. “We’ll have to see how the team in doing.”

The 32-year-old, who was set to travel with the Germany squad to next June’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa, flung himself under a busy commuter train at a small town near Hannover on Tuesday evening after suffering from depression for several years.

His broken-hearted widow gave a press conference on Wednesday explaining how her husband had been treated for depression since 2003 and had an acute fear of failure.

After losing his place in the Germany team in September after suffering from a stomach infection, Enke sought treatment six weeks ago and his psychologist, Dr Valentin Marksel, revealed details of the goalkeeper’s last desperate note.

“In the letter he apologised for his deliberate concealment of his state of mind over recent days that was necessary in order to be able to put his suicide plan into action,” Marksel said.

On the day of Enke’s suicide, Marksel revealed the Germany star had telephoned his local hospital to cancel a counselling appointment.

“He called off all therapy appointments for the next few weeks, until further notice, because he said he was feeling better. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in protecting him from suicide,” said an emotional Marksel. “In my opinion, he was not suicidal and there was no indication that he needed to be hospitalised.”

Germany’s friendly against Chile on Saturday has been cancelled out of respect of Enke’s death.

“I am completely shocked and absolutely empty,” national coach Joachim Löw said. “In this situation nobody was prepared simply to go back to business as usual.”

The entire national squad is expected to attend a public memorial service to held at 11:00 am on Sunday in Hannover 96’s stadium before Enke is buried in private in his home town of Neustadt am Ruebenberge, near Hannover.

Enke leaves behind his wife Teresa and 18-month-old daughter Leila, whom the couple adopted in May after their two-year-old daughter Lara died from a heart infection in 2006.

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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.