Before the Revierderby on Saturday between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, the TV broadcaster Sky shows repetitions of old duels, one of which is particularly fascinating. It is twelve years old, BVB, trained by Jürgen Klopp, was 3-0 back at home. The Dortmund stadium with its 80,000 spectators: almost silent. Only the Schalke players who traveled with them sang – until BVB came up to 2: 3, two Schalke players were sent off and equalized shortly before the end. Schalke’s fans celebrated their own team anyway.
As is well known, nobody will celebrate in the stadium on this Saturday except perhaps those involved. Spectators are not allowed in the largest German football stadium, as was the case at the last derby. Back then, right after the Corona-related break last May, Dortmund won 4-0. After that, Clemens Tönnies, who was still chairman of the Schalke supervisory board at the time, stood in front of the microphones and said that S04 had to think more than ever about outsourcing the professional department to a corporation.
Outsourcing, Tönnies, sporting decline – these are still topics that move Schalke fans even before the derby on this Saturday.
When the game is played in Dortmund from 6.30 p.m. on Saturday (TV: Sky, live ticker SPIEGEL.de), Kornelia Toporzysek will watch the derby on television with the bar door open and the passage through. Emotionally it is much further away than it was a few years ago. “A lot broke there. I am incredibly exhausted from everything,” says the judge, who has attended FC Schalke games since the mid-1990s.
“I hope that Schalke will finally be about football again and that it will be a bit more attractive again.”
But Schalke is currently mainly about the Tönnies system and its consequences. Toporzysek also got to know the system from within. She was on the Schalke Honorary Council when it was supposed to deal with racist statements that Tönnies had made at the end of July 2019. “Stunned and appalled” by the way the case was negotiated, she resigned from the panel. Tönnies got off very mildly and was acquitted of the accusation of racism, he let his office rest for three months. The meat contractor was still in control of the strings he’d pulled.
“The case will always fall at our feet,” Toporzysek claims to have suspected even then. Markus Peick, who attended all FC Schalke games for ten years before the outbreak of the pandemic, confirms the premonition: “Since then we have been considered a racist club, although we are not one.”
There have been several incidents recently that left a different impression. For example the racist calls against Jordan Torunarigha, professional from Hertha BSC. The DFB had sentenced the club to a fine of 50,000 euros after the scandal in February. And only last week Youssoufa Moukoko was badly insulted in an A-youth Revierderby, the DFB is also investigating here because of suspected racist statements.
The Schalke Fan Initiative has been committed to combating racism and discrimination for decades. The fact that FC Schalke is again presented as a club with a major racism problem annoys fans like Toporzysek. This is also why a tougher penalty against Tönnies and a clear demarcation from the club side would have been so important.
The two board members Jochen Schneider and Alexander Jobst would not have clearly positioned themselves against Tönnies in the summer of 2019, who has since left. “Our board of directors is absolutely unacceptable – because they did not understand Schalke,” accuses Pascal Szewczyk of the two men in the now three-person committee. Szewczyk is very well networked in the active fan scene. He was not there, but thought it was “really good” that Ultras put the Schalke professionals under pressure after the 1-1 draw against Union Berlin last Sunday for the derby, even threatening them.
The meeting in front of the stadium once again sparked discussions about the role of the ultras. Many Schalke fans clearly distanced themselves from the threat that the next meeting after a lost derby might not be “so peaceful”. “Physical violence is of course completely over the top. But I thought it was cool that the millionaires get confronted with reality,” said Szewczyk.
Fans like Szewczyk are worried about their club. “Schalke is part of myself, and I’m not going to let any more be stolen from me. They have already stolen so much from me,” says Szewczyk, who also runs the Schalke podcast “Blauer.Salon”. It’s not just the wasted millions and the worn-out staff, it’s also three floodlights. “First they said that all the masts at the old park stadium should remain. Then there were at least two. Now, after the renovation, there is only one.” Or the club logo. Szewczyk finds it very successful after the redesign, but: “You should never tackle it again without asking me.” The member wants to be heard as it is entitled to according to the statutes.
Outsourcing? “Schalke would lose its soul”
Timo Riedemann is co-initiator of the “Schalke nur als eV” initiative. He rigorously rejects a spin-off into a corporation. Kornelia Toporzysek is not so dogmatic: “It would take me further away, Schalke would lose his soul. But if it were to ensure survival …” Pascal Szewczyk says: “We can also become a cooperative. I just want that Schalke remains a part of me. “
Lack of a say is a big problem for the supporters. There is hardly any dialogue between the club and fans, no open discussions, no concepts. “We need specific key data,” demands Toporzysek. “When does the open discussion that Jobst announced begins?”
Alexander Jobst, the Marketing Director, is viewed critically by many fans. He, but also his board colleague Schneider, would not have understood FC Schalke, to which millions of fans are connected, inside. Therefore, according to Szewczyk, he would like managers who “are professionally qualified and have the Schalke stamp. They also know what a derby victory means.”
Envious of BVB?
It sounds like he’s even looking a bit jealous of Dortmund’s sports director Michael Zorc, who himself played numerous derbies. Or Hans-Joachim Watzke, who saw BVB play with his father in the Rote Erde stadium.
Who could be Schalke’s royal blue face and heart? “Good question”, replies Kornelia Toporzysek, “I can’t think of any.” Szewczyk and Riedemann name Benedikt Höwedes, but only in five to ten years.
Economic worries, old clans around Clemens Tönnies, an extremely heterogeneous fan base, a further split in the discussion about a spin-off, plus since 20 Bundesliga games without a win: What helps Schalke? “A derby victory in the very short term,” says Kornelia Toporzysek, “no one is expecting it. But it would be very roguish if we won.”