How Leipzig fans face abuse and violence at other football clubs

On Saturday fans of RB Leipzig football club, including children, were violently attacked in Dortmund. It was the worst aggression yet against the Bundesliga's youngest - and most hated - club.

How Leipzig fans face abuse and violence at other football clubs
Dortmund fans clash with police on Saturday. Photo: DPA

An RB Leipzig fan has described how hooligans in Dortmund attacked their group, which included children, with stones and bottles and levels of hatred towards the Red Bull-backed club which have shocked German football.

Hooliganism is nothing new in German football, but Saturday's violence meted out to RB Leipzig supporters, including young families, was a brutal fresh low.

Some of the terrified 8,000 RB Leipzig supporters, who saw their team lose 1-0 in front of 81,360 at Dortmund's intimidating Signal Iduna Park stadium, were attacked en route to the game.

“On the way to the Borussia stadium, the fans weren't separated,” RB Leipzig fan Lars H. told German daily Bild.

“They threw eggs, cans, bottles and stones at us, flags and scarves were torn away.

“Our children were pushed and attacked, we had to get them to the sides.

There were several people injured, some with lacerations.

“In eight years of being a fan I've never experienced anything as bad as in Dortmund.”

Severed bull's head

Hatred from rival fans is something RasenBallsport Leipzig, founded by Red Bull in 2009, has had to deal with on the path to Germany's top tier.

Following four promotions in seven years they are perceived as a threat to all things good about German football because of the obvious commercialism they represent.

RasenBallsport — GrassBallsport — is a fabricated German word to get around the ban on Bundesliga clubs bearing a sponsor's name.

The Bundesliga's “50+1” rule stops clubs being run by a single rich investor and its members must have a controlling share, except RB Leipzig has just 17 members – who are all essentially Red Bull employees.

At the start of the season, Borussia's CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke was one of RB's most outspoken critics, saying Leipzig “play football to perform for cans of drink”.

The head of a severed bull was thrown into the playing area when Leipzig lost a German Cup match at Dynamo Dresden in August.

And home fans in Cologne staged a sit-down protest which blocked the RB team bus and meant the kick-off for a league game was delayed in September.

But Dortmund was something else.

During the Bundesliga match, Leipzig players had laser lights shone into their faces from the terraces and there were around 60 banners in the stadium with anti-Red Bull slogans.

One of the most offensive read: “Burn-out, Ralle: go hang yourself”, referring to Ralf Rangnick, RB's director of sport who resigned from Schalke in 2011 with exhaustion.

“That's sick,” said Borussia Mönchengladbach's director Max Eberl.

“What happened there and what we have all seen, is a disaster for football.”

Oil on the fire?

Eberl's Gladbach host RB in 10 days and he says “the framework of good decency must be maintained” so that visiting fans can watch the game without fear.

In a video message, Dortmund boss Watzke said the club will do “everything in our power” to catch the culprits and two fans responsible for the banners have been identified, reported Bild.

Police chiefs have criticised Dortmund for allowing the banners into the stadium.

And Watzke's sharp “performing cans” comment last year could have fuelled the violence from Dortmund's “Ultras”, according to a fan expert.

“The question at this point is whether one, as head of a club, the team, the trainer or the CEO, still pours oil on the fire, knowing that their own fan culture can't deal with it,” Professor Harald Lange told Cologne-based newspaper Kölner Stadtanzeiger.

According to Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Dortmund's hooligans were prevented by police from attacking the Leipzig team bus and then aimed their frustrated aggression at visiting fans.

Dortmund can expect to be heavily punished by the German Football Association (DFB).

The club's senior figures are hoping there will be no further violence for Wednesday's German Cup third-round game at home to Hertha Berlin.

Dortmund are already on probation having been fined €75,000 after their fans rioted following May's German Cup final when Dortmund lost on penalties to Bayern Munich.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.