THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Bundesliga: The ultimate fan experience

"Gelbe Wand" – the yellow wall of 25,000 fans at Borussia Dortmund's SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. (Photo courtesy: Bundesliga)
"Gelbe Wand" – the yellow wall of 25,000 fans at Borussia Dortmund's SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. Photo courtesy: Bundesliga

With an average of 42,217 fans passing through the turnstiles for each and every Bundesliga fixture according to the DFL Sport Report, and Borussia Dortmund’s record-breaking average of 80,230, as per the CIES Football Observatory, ensuring they remain untouched as Europe’s most-watched team, other leagues simply cannot hold a candle to Germany’s top tier.

The Bundesliga is a true fan magnet; a league of its own, and it is not hard to see why.

With a total of 855 goals last season, fans were more likely to see the net ripple in Bundesliga games than anywhere else on the old continent. That equates to an average of 3.1 goals per game, compared to 2.8 and 2.5 in England and Spain respectively, according to each leagues official website, providing better than three moments per match in which fans are ripped from the seats they paid comparatively little to occupy.

Not all are forced to get to their feet to celebrate either. Indeed, the Bundesliga pioneers safe standing areas, which play their part in what is a truly unique matchday experience, amplifying an already amazing atmosphere. It’s a winning formula: low prices, high attendances, happy fans and a product which ticks all the boxes.

For further evidence, look no further than Dortmund’s famed Gelbe Wand – the yellow wall of 25,000 fans which is second to none in the whole of Europe. Faced with such an imposing sight, it is easy to see why BVB have yet to lose on home soil this season: thanks in some part at least to their more than just visual and vociferous 12th man.

Not only do they make noise, they also provide plenty of colour – and that’s not exclusive to Dortmund. Each Saturday afternoon, teams can expect to be greeted by a dazzling display of organised banners and bunting at grounds across the country as fans participate rather than just spectate at Bundesliga games.

Visiting supporters have a prominent place too. League rules stipulate that a minimum of 10 percent of tickets must be made available to away supporters, but the truth is much more than that are keen to follow their team up and down the country and beyond. Eintracht Frankfurt fans had European football’s governing body UEFA scratching their heads trying to accommodate requests for the Eagles’ UEFA Europa League trip to FC Internazionale Milano in March. Some 15,000 travelling fans were in Milan that night.

More than 20,000 1. FC Köln fans travelled to London for the Europa League clash with Arsenal in September 2017, and when FC Bayern München met Dortmund in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final, London’s iconic Wembley stadium could have been sold out at least six times over, such was the demand to see two of the world’s greatest teams fight for silverware.

Capacity crowds is the rule in the Bundesliga too, with over 90 percent of places filled in each stadium, each weekend, and that includes no fewer than seven clubs drawing over 49,000 per match, whilst two Bundesliga 2 clubs – Köln and Hamburger SV – regularly surpass 50,000. With seats costing an average of €24 in the first half of the 2018/19 season, and standing tickets available for an average of just €11, according to each club’s official website, it’s easy to see why.

For that, fans are not only getting to see some of the greatest entertainment football has to offer, but they are witnessing it from the luxury of some of the most modern stadia in the world – each of Bayern’s Allianz Arena, Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion, Hertha Berlin’s Olympiastadion, Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park and FC Schalke 04’s Veltins-Arena are considered 5-star stadiums by UEFA.

With many of the Bundesliga grounds built or renovated for the 2006 World Cup – and several, such as in Mainz and Augsburg, built or modernised even more recently – Germany has the most cutting edge designs where, like with everything Bundesliga, fans come first.

UEFA did not hesitate in naming Germany as hosts for EURO 2024, when the country will once again welcome thousands of guests into venues boasting world class corporate hospitality facilities and unparalleled access for wheelchair visitors and commentary support for the visually impaired. In short: German stadia have it all.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that countless football fans from all corners of the world flock to Germany each weekend to partake in this enchanting occasion. Indeed, it often works out cheaper to book a flight to Germany and a ticket for a Bundesliga fixture than it would to see one of Europe’s other domestic league games, and they still have money left over for a half-time Bratwurst.

All this is made possible because in the Bundesliga it is not just about the football, it is also about the fans.