The streets of Viertel are covered with ideas, arts, all kinds of forms of expression, this is the main area of Bremen where people can attract others attention for issues in which they are personally involved, issues which they find important to be aware of or to take action. People come to the Viertel with opened eyes and hearts, it’s a hub of social issues, a hub of protest and diversity. Who hasn’t seen yet the green-white scarfs, stickers, socks, banners etc. on the streets of Bremen? Werder Bremen, the football team of the city is indeed present all around Bremen. We can say, that there are living traces of protest in the case of football culture, not only the signs they leave on the walls of Viertel.
When the supporters march on the streets before and after matches. You can see them beign dressed in green-white everywhere in Bremen, even on the trains from surrounding cities. Most of them are of course, where else if not in Viertel? It’s like a green-white flood rolling over the streets of Viertel towards the stadium on the days of matches.
If you want to watch the matches anywhere within the country with like-minded people, there is even an app, that can help you to find the nearest fan clubs to your location. There are many “Fan-Kneipe” in Viertel where the biggest fans share some beer and discourse about the current issues of Werder Bremen, here as far as I could see, everyone knows everyone. They form a very tight group of people, often with high expectations towards each other. United they feel greater, they show high loyalty towards one another.
Why I decided to focus on the football fanaticism of Bremen? Because I find it a unique and surprisingly living social phenomena, in which so different people support something commonly and they spend regularly a plenty of time with it. There are of course different levels: from the sympathizers to the ultimate ultras, of which I am writing later.
As far as I know, everywhere in Germany, great number of people are very much involved in football games. It seems to be a mainstay part of the culture. People show proudly who they support and they gather regularly for each occasion. I met some locals of Bremen who told me about this Football culture a bit more. As far as I understood, it is rather a form of lifestyle. The real fans indeed live for football, they are very strongly united and they count on each other to gather regularly and express their love and loyalty, in other words: their fanaticism towards football. Also, for getting close to my topic, I went to Viertel to check out a “Fan-Kneipe” that is specifically for football fanatics. The atmosphere was entirely different from what I have seen before in other places. A visible remark I experienced was that the vast majority of the people there are male, often wearing scarf or at least one piece of cloths that is green and white. Although, at the time when I went to see it, there was no match coming it was just a normal weekend evening, still most people seemed to know at least the face of each other, they acted a bit in a way as if all of them were some sort of far family members. It seemed to be a relatively closed community, although I am quite sure that all doors would open up to anyone who decides to support Werder Bremen. A local guy, who was also previously involved in the fans of Werder Bremen told me, that if you are really a fan (part of the ultras), then you have to act like one by showing great support for the team. and just like from every closed community, it is very hard to leave. If you loose your interest or decide not to go to every match anymore etc. it can easily mean that you also lose your former friends and become excluded by not sharing the same level of interest.
These are of course only the more radical views and groups of people, but as we know, usually the radicals are the loudest so we must always mention them. There are many people in Bremen that are not part of fan groups, but still they happily dress up in green and white on the days of matches and celebrate and watch it together. It is a normal and very popular program for Bremen people. It is also shown by the fact, that most of the bars are reserved far in advance where there is a chance to watch the match on screen. I find the fanaticism a really interesting phenomena because it really moves the whole of Bremen and unites it for these occasions. They share these familiar “comrade like” looks on the trams and on the streets scandalizing the well-known songs and slogans.
What does “ultras” mean exactly?
Ultras are a type of football fans that are known for their, sometimes extreme fanatical support. The term originated is used all around the world to describe mostly organized fans of association football teams.
There are several “ultra groups” in Bremen, which are the following: “Wanderers-Bremen”, “The Infamous Youth”, “Caillera”, “L’Intesa Verde”, “HB Crew”, “Ultra Boys” and “UltrA-Team Bremen”.
Ultras are usually in larger groups, typical characteristics of their behaviour is that they often use flares, and banners, vocal support, primarily in the football stadiums, but also before and after the match elsewhere as well. Their behaviour is for creating an atmosphere which is meant to encourage their supported team and to intimidate the opposition. Occasionally, their behaviour turns out to be extreme and it might be influence by different ideologies. In the Case of Werder Bremen, it is sometimes influenced by current political views. As we can see on their stickers in Viertel, they tend to agree with the general liberal leftist approach of the city. We can read such stickers from them such as: “Football has no gender” or “Nazis raus”, “Kein Fußball den Faschisten”. In other parts of the world ultras groups are rather known for less opened views. Nationalism and racism is more typical in most cases, but certainly not in the case of Werder Bremen. Sometimes this phenomenon may escalate to such levels that the dedicated fans’ support is becoming less significant comparing to the ideology itself that they represent. Another interesting phenomenon, regarding the culture of football fanaticism is that in the latter decades people became increasingly skeptical about the commercialization of sports, especially in the case of football.
The official anthem of Werder Bremen is “Lebenslang Grün-Weiß” the word “Lebenslang” is often used by the group in the name of many of their programs and activities, it is kind of a part of their slogan, we could also read it on some of the stickers on the streets. Lebenslang Grün-Weiß is sung before each game and after every goal a ship’s horn sounds in the stadium.
Among Bremen’s typical trademarks we can certainly find also its football club, Werder Bremen, they are one of the Bundesliga’s most well-known team. Its home ground is the Weser Stadium. It is said to be one of the most popular stadiums of Germany thanks to its special atmosphere. People can also reach the stadium by boat, due to its close location to the river. Thus, most fans make these occasions a real festive like event. The supporters sing ‘green and white for life’ over and over again each time the club wins.
The supporters do not have to go far to get green-white items to show their support for the club, a huge range of green-and-white items also on the online shop of Werder Bremen and at their fan store near the stadium.
Weser Stadium as the home ground of Werder Bremen
It can accommodate 42,100 people, it is very well-known due to its uniqueness. The first stadium of Werder Bremen on this location was built in 1909, since the first one, there have been several extensions and constructions, a fun fact is that for today it can entirely rely on itself with energy, since the solar panels were built on it. Another football attraction of Bremen is the Wuseum, the Werder Bremen museum. At the museum we can see the extensions and the development of the stadium over the 120 years and we can also check the history of Werder Bremen.
The philosophy of a fan club
I checked out an independent fan page of Werder Bremen that provided me interesting attitudes towards football and towards life. It is called the DeichStube. It says about itself that it is the “portal for green and white attitude to life”. We can find here different kinds of journalistic contents, information about the players and matches and it also functions as a network. It aims to give passion and support for the club.
They highlight that every kind of sympathiser or “hardcore fan” is welcomed, but they emphasise that they do not accept violence.
They claim that the fans are the soul of their club. They state that Werder Bremen has about 780 registered fan clubs all around the world. There is to find some outside of Germany, like in in China, Jordan and also in the USA.
They are involved in several social issues. They claim to be ani-racists they have well-organized programs such as: Antidiskriminierung, Social Alliance, SPIELRAUM: Bleib am Ball – Refugees, Lernzentrum, Kids-Club, aid Ernährungsführerschein, GartenKinder. I find it a unique and very positive attitude that a football club has so much social programs on their agenda that they deal with. It is extremely helpful to use the fanatic supporters’s help for difficult issues. For instance to integrate people that have disadvantages in certain areas of their lives. I believe that other clubs should learn from this attitude of Werder Bremen and follow their examples this way, thus providing a way to good aims for thousands of people.
Images taken by Maria Leon and edited by Eszter Baracskai