Cologne relegated, Berlin saved – for now

With a woeful 4-1 loss to Bayern Munich on Saturday, FC Cologne lost their place in the top Bundesliga, prompting fans to stop the game a minute early with smoke bombs. But Hertha Berlin lived to fight another day.

Cologne relegated, Berlin saved - for now
Photo: DPA

In Berlin, Hertha were able to win a spot in the relegation play-off with a 3-1 victory over 1899 Hoffenheim. They will now play the team that finishes third in the second Bundesliga for a place in the top flight.

“We fought like lions,” said Hertha coach Otto Rehhagel, who signed with the team in February. Rehhagel came out of retirement to help the ailing Hertha, which was where he began his Bundesliga playing career in 1963.

“I have often said, that the fans here in Berlin have earned the spot in the Bundesliga,” he said.

But Cologne struggled against Champions League finalists Bayern for most of the game.

As the end of the game approached, fans lit several smoke bombs, forcing officials to call the game after 89:30 minutes, prompting police to run onto the field, and the players to run off to the locker rooms.

Cologne coach Frank Schaefer said, “It is a black day for everyone.”

Munich star Mario Gomez said on Sky TV after the game, “What happened in the stadium is a disgrace. Something like that doesn’t belong in a football stadium… These are not fans, they are idiots, who are using the stage of the football game.”

Cologne’s Lukas Podolski, who recently signed for English club Arsenal for €12 million, said after the game: “This is one of the bitterest defeats for me – I have to stomach it.”

DPA/The Local/mbw

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German football club ends partnership with Russia’s Gazprom

German football club Schalke 04 announced Monday it had prematurely ended its partnership with Russian gas giant Gazprom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

German football club ends partnership with Russia's Gazprom

The deal between the second-tier German club and Gazprom had been due to run until 2025 with Schalke receiving around €9 million ($10 million) per year in sponsorship.

Had the Gelsenkirchen-based club won promotion back to the Bundesliga at the end of this season, the sponsorship figure would have risen to €15 million annually.

Schalke had already removed the Gazprom logo from their shirts for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Karlsruhe.

In a statement, Schalke said their finances were “unaffected by this decision”.

“The club’s management is confident that it will be able to present a new partner in the near future.”

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Gazprom representative Matthias Warnig resigned from the club’s supervisory board last Thursday.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, interim president of the German Football Association (DFB), had already hinted there could be financial aid for Schalke if they split from Gazprom.

“If this requires the solidarity of other clubs in Germany to get them out of this situation, then we have to discuss how we can manage that,” Watzke told ZDF.

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