There is no way that this page can tell you the whole story of FC St Pauli – but each journey begins with a single step….
FC SANKT PAULI – Football is Political
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. This is designed to prevent a wealthy individual or company owning a club. Whilst some clubs tinker with this approach in order to get more money in their coffers it is not something that St Pauli will ever sell out on/to.
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
Some people reckon there is no place for politics in football (or sport, generally): for them, you assume, football is simply a spectator sport, or a cash-cow, which at its very best is represented by the Premier £eague, celebrity managers, TV punditry etc. But not everyone thinks like that. And if you’re here perhaps you don’t either.
Ewald Lienen, former manager and current Technical Director at FC St Pauli, believes, with a passion, that football is political. Football can be a force for social good eg the club supports and promotes various initiatives such as Viva con Agua, and the Lampedusa football team for refugees. Even the small gesture of having bee hives at the ground and the selling of honey and seeds for plants (‘bee food’) is there to highlight the impact of climate change on nature: this scheme arose out of Lienen’s experience in China seeing people manually pollinate plants due to the lack of the insects that would do this but have killed off by pollution etc.
FC St Pauli are often cited as a club that has clearly shown its colours but some critics see it’s popularity as watered down radicalism for a 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’. (Just mention here that Altona 93 have a friendship with south london’s Dulwich Hamlet FC, formed in the same year). However, there is no denying the worldwide support that St Pauli has with fans and fanclubs from all over the globe – something that is welcomed and recognised by the club whose Fanladen caters 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 support for such initiatives.
‘Pirates, Punks and Politics’ (Nick Davidson)
There is a dearth of published material in English on FC St Pauli. At this point in time there is only one book – ‘Pirates, Punks and Politics: FC St Pauli – Falling in love with a radical football club’ by Nick Davidson. It combines a personal journey of how he came to be a Pauli supporter with a history of FC St Pauli and the current goings on at the club and the fans. It is an essential read (and all the author’s royalties go to the 1910 Museum, a worthy cause). Sample (PDF). Nick also has a blog Outside-Left
CLUB HISTORY – Here you will find a detailed overview of the history of FC St. Pauli (from the Club’s English webpages).
FC St Pauli (Wikipedia) – Decent summary of FC St Pauli
World of Football – A good introduction to the club’s history, stance and where it is today
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)