Fans make silent protest as they bid to preserve football culture.
Supporters of the German second division club Union Berlin will stage a 15-minute silence at the start of their home game against RB Leipzig on Friday to protest against their big-spending opponents.
RB Leipzig are owned by the Austrian drinks company, Red Bull, and have spent heavily in recentt years as they climbed the divisions.
Leipzig have moved up from the fifth tier in 2009 to the second tier last year, winning promotion three times in five seasons. They also made the headlines by signing the promising German youth international, 20-year-old Davie Selke from Werder Bremen, by persuading him to drop down a division with a multi-million Euro contract.
“Leipzig has again spent vast amounts of money on new players, almost all of whom had offers from the top division,” wrote the Union fan group Scene Koepenick in an open letter to the Berlin club’s fans. “The financial possibilities seem endless.“
“But we will fight for the preservation of football culture for as long as possible. Pure marketing instruments like RasenBallsport will never be part of that culture and that is why we call on a 15-minute silence.”
Union Berlin, from the east of the city, enjoy a reputation as being an anti-establishment club since the days of East Germany, and enjoy fierce fan loyalty.
A club official said Union was fully behind the fan initiative: “I can only use the words of our president Dirk Zingler who fully backs this initiative by 100% ,” club spokesman Christian Arbeit said. “RB Leipzig can expect more protests.”
Union Berlin endeared themselves to supporters earlier this year when they extended the contract of their veteran player Benjamin Köhler by a year after he was diagnosed with cancer.
RB Leipzig are one of four clubs worldwide controlled by the drinks maker. The others are in Salzburg, New York and in Brazil.