FC SANKT PAULI – Football of Politics
Who are FC St Pauli?
FC St Pauli are a football club situated in the district of St Pauli, Hamburg, Germany. Their home ground is the 30,000 capacity Millerntor Stadion. They play in the second league (2 Bundesliga) having, in recent years, been in the regional league (Regionalliga) and the top tier (Bundesliga). Success in terms of titles (showy hubcaps) and trophies (bejazzled goblets) has been ‘modest’ (ahem) but FC St Pauli are more than just what happens on the field.
What is special about FC St Pauli?
Since the mid-80s when squatters, students and artists moved into the then run down area of St Pauli the fanbase has become heavily politicised – fighting for the rights of all football fans and opposing all forms of discrimination. For example, the Club was the first to ban far-right support in its stands and to fly the LGBT flag above the ground, and is committed to fighting racial intolerance, homophobia, sexism etc. Many fans are also opposed to rampant commercialism/corporatisation of football and it can be a delicate balancing act between these ‘social romantics’ and the ‘pragmatists’ who argue a need to have some commercial involvement to bring in the income to allow the Club to improve its facilities and grow. What this does mean is that there is an ongoing and exciting dynamic between the Club and fans. The fans have a role in the running of club as, under the German football model, fans must have 51% share of the club. Oh, you can also stand on the terraces and drink beer and/or smoke, if you like that sort of thing. Tickets prices are affordable too. [See Tickets for information on getting tickets].
Listen to Sven Brux – fan who was part of the change in the 80s and now head of security (yes, ‘poacher turned gatekeeper’ 😉 ) – talk about the early days and now on bbc radio (9mins) : Sporting Witness
Football and Politics
There are those who think football and politics should not mix and those who think that football, as a community, can be a force for social good for all rather than an opportunity to line the pockets of select individuals. FC St Pauli are often cited as a club that has clearly shown its colours whilst critics denigrate it’s popularity as watered down radicalism for the consumer left Some former Pauli fans – even those involved in its radical past – have drifted to the amateur club Altona 93 in protest at Pauli’s ‘commercialism’. (Oddly enough Altona 93 have a friendship with Dulwich Hamlet FC, formed in the same year). However, there is denying the worldwide support that St Pauli has with fans and fanclubs that are registered with Pauli all over the globe – this is something that is welcomed and recognised by the club and its Fanladen project has a remit to cater for overseas fans.
St Pauli are not alone in mixing their politics with sport. Campaigns like Football Fans Against Homophobia (started by fans at Tennis Borussia in Berlin), and organisations like FARE which support grass roots campaigns to combat discrimination as well as highlighting incidents of racism and intolerance at high levels of the game, and amateur sports clubs like Roter Stern Leipzig, and Babelsberg 03 in Germany and fans such as east london’s Clapton Ultras and also south London’s Dulwich Hamlet’s Dultras show there is groundswell of support for such initiatives. Long may that continue.
As the stand at the Millerntor clearly states – Kein Fussball den Faschisten!
Bundesliga (English version) – Official website for the football league
Kicker (2Bundesliga) – Sports website (good source for fixtures, results, tables, news and info, covering national and regional leagues). This link is to 2Bundesliga pages.
Football & Politics (Other)
Fan Action Network (FAN) – An initiative for a better deal for football fans in UK
FARE Network – Fighting against discrimination in football in Europe
Football Fans Against Homophobia (English Facebook group) /
Fussball Fans Gegen Homophobie (German site)