What a week it’s been.
And, well, hello!
A big element of reconsidering the Planet Effzeh content strategy — My Hennes, do I ever hate business-strategy phrases like “content strategy, even when appropriate — is that I felt I needed (wanted) there to be more of my American Geissbock voice on the site and not just straight-ish news stuff translated and rewritten with my J-school mindfulness.
Hence, I’m going to be adjusting the way things are presented here. I still intend to deliver news for the non-German-speaking folk who want to follow the club more closely, but it will either be very short and to the point or presented with a healthy dose of my own analysis, opinion, etc.
Anyhow, an educator strike in Seattle helped hinder my efforts the last few weeks, as I had a child at home. Now that my elder son has returned to daily schooling, I’ve my days free to get back atop all things Effzeh.
The sad thing for me the last few days has been what an unhappy place online Effzeh has been lately. It would have been bad enough to jump back into full-immersion ofc club chatter to find everyone moping about the complete destruction we all experienced in the Frankfurt match, but we seem to have moved on from a porous defense and susequent meltdown to multiple boycotts for Saturday’s derby, as well as some genuine unrest about the 1. FC Köln’s participation in the Wir helfen (We help) sleeve-advertisement, due to its affiliation with tabloid newspaper BILD.
I’ve already covered the Borussia Mönchengladbach fan-group boycott of the derby. I cannot get past the notion that what’s meant to be protected, for the most part, is the ability for jackasses to be as anonymous as possible when travelling to away matches, best allowing for a continuation of violence between rival fans and good-ol’ property destruction. For me, this shows more clearly how football is less the passionate interest of some of these folks than it is the best venue for their particular brand of self-aggrandizement.
What I have not yet addressed is how the 1. FC Köln ultras seem to have allied themselves with the ‘Gladbach ultras instead of with the club for Saturday. Much like the tantrum thrown last season when the Köln Boyz were collectively banned from the stadium for the participation of some of their members in the storming of the pitch at Borussia Park in the last edition of the derby, the ultras groups in Köln have declared they will not take part in providing atmosphere Saturday.
Considering that the club lifted the ban on the Köln Boyz just before this year’s home opener against Wolfsburg, one can’t help but think that the ultras were encouraged by the idea that they’d gotten what they wanted through their actions and will now be all-the-more likely to pull the “Stimmungsboykott” card whenever they’re displeased over something.
I also can’t help but think of the many times I’ve heard the phrase, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” and consider this a low-stakes example of why it’s a bad idea; once you blink, your opponent knows you’ll blink.
The sad thing is that the ultras groups could have actually held onto their trump card for a much bigger and better cause, leading to their perhaps regaining some of their esteem among fans who soured on them last year.
That BILD is a tabloid with a somewhat shabby overall reputation with regard to its value as a news source would be a gross understatement, particularly when it comes to how it has, in the past, published sensational stories that cast immigrants and minorities in a negative light, helping fuel some of the contemporary right-wing furor over such matters.
The paper’s past behavior and long-held reputation would be more than enough for fans to raise their eyebrows when faced with the news that the BILD logo will be on the jersey sleeves this weekend, embedded in the logo of the “Wir helfen” initiative.
Yet, that didn’t stop BILD Editor-in-Chief Kai Diekmann from helping raise the general displeasure to incredible levels. When FC St. Pauli announced they’d not wear the logo, Diekmann responded by charging St. Pauli with not caring about refugees and then proceeded to taunt them with playground-level banter that was, at the very least, unprofessional.
In the case you are reading this unaware of St. Pauli’s worldwide reputation as a super-progressive club that is constantly involved in social-welfare promotion, just know that the absolute last football club in the world anyone would reasonably charge with being uncaring toward a humanitarian crisis would be FC St. Paul.
Sidebar: Read about the Diekmann-versus-St. Pauli battle as summarized by my Bundesliga Fanatic colleague Niklas Wildhagen for more detail.
The entire incident, for many, raises the question of why BILD was suddenly inserting themselves as a promoter of pro-refugee effort. Would the newspaper boldly exploit a humanitarian crisis for the public-relations value? At the very least, Diekmann’s behavior seemed to show that his interest was about something other than the refugees themselves, which led to other clubs deciding to join St. Pauli in removing themselves from the “Wir helfen” promotion, largely to assure they were distancing themselves from BILD and, largely, Diekmann’s behavior toward their fellow Bundesliga member.
Because effzeh fans largely self-identify as socially progressive themselves, there has been an overwhelming call via social-media channels for the club to show allegiance with the fans and to remain true the marketing slogan of “Spürbar Anders” (Tangibly Different) by joining St. Pauli, SC Freiburn, Union Berlin, and 1. FC Nürnberg in opting-out of wearing the logo Saturday, attaching the hashtag #BILDnotwelcome to their tweeted pleas.
The club reconfirmed its commitment to participating, which has led to a lot of hand-wringing and public self-flagellation over the matter. The responses have ranged in severity from “disappointment” to “I may need to reconsider my club membership,” while most make effort to point out that they do align themselves as being in favor of aid to refugees, but take exception to the involvement of BILD.
If I may, I’d like to draw a parallel for my fellow US effzeh fans who can’t quite grasp what’s in dispute here. Imagine some humanitarian crisis involving Mexico. Now, imagine that there was enough public support of aid toward the crisis that there was great PR to be had by being seen as attaching oneself to helping Mexico. Now, imagine your favorite NFL team wearing a patch that aligns the team with aid to Mexico, but that patch also featured a logo for Donald Trump.
Or, in a real-life example, imagine the hypocrisy of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who has shut-down public-sector labor unions, wishing people a “Happy Labor Day.”
That’s where this rubs people the wrong way.
It’s a complicated situation revolving around a matter much more serious than a holiday greeting, though. It’s easy enough to say that the important thing is that “Wir helfen” helps inspire further public support of those fleeing their war-torn home for safety elsewhere, but once could also say that if BILD wanted genuinely only to help, they could have promoted the initiative without slapping their own name on the logo, and its editor could have taken the high road in addressing St. Pauli exercising its right to say “no thanks.”
Meanwhile, the ultras will use their considerable collective power to fight against having tickets sold to away fans attached to the purchaser by name and address . . . good stuff, fellas.
This, much like the ultras boycotts, will eventually be something that flows into the bottomless reservoir of past events, and we’ll all move on, perhaps excepting a few who are able to walk away from their beloved club over a one-week association with BILD.
It’s also admittedly far too easy for someone in Seattle, who experiences the club and matches only through a computer screen, to leave a drab commentary on the entire matter. After all, when I sport my effeh gear around town here (that is, every day), nobody associates me even with a German “SAWK-ker” team, much less REWE, Erima, or,now, BILD. Most folks here are unaware of the existence of any of them.
Hence, it’s within my abilities to shrug this off as best I can and hope we all get back to uniting in support of 1. FC Köln in football matters. Without question, the atmosphere brought by the ultras and the socially progressive nature of the club’s fans are huge attractions to me, but it ultimately comes down to the sport. However I might feel about the derby being played in front of a relatively quiet crowd with an empty away section, while the team wears the logo of a news entity that does sometimes represent a questionable brand of “journalism,” the only thing that will truly impact how I feel after the match will be how the team played and the result achieved from it.
Come on, effzeh!
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