Eintracht Frankfurt has a fan problem. This is nothing new, and that is precisely why the situation is worrying. Fired flares, initiated space storms, property damage – these are just a few of the offenses from the past few years. The Bundesliga club has already had to pay several hundred thousand euros in fines due to the behavior of its supporters.
In the past few months, calm seemed to have returned, but that impression was deceptive. It was mainly due to the fact that no or only a few spectators were allowed into the stadium due to the pandemic. Because a sudden change of heart of some fans has not yet been noticed.
How the violent among them still tick became clear last week at the Europa League game in Antwerp. Around 300 Eintracht fans, some of them masked, threw chairs, stones, garbage cans and firecrackers around them in the city center, and the Belgian police came with a large contingent. There was no adequate reaction from those responsible for the association.
Club and supporters – this has been a special relationship for years. On the one hand, players, coaches and board members celebrate their fans again and again for their vocal and visually powerful support. On the other hand, the impression is solidifying that parts of the fans have long since led a life of their own and have become an uncontrollable power factor within the club.
Compared to other Bundesliga clubs, Eintracht is currently having a hard time introducing a 2-G rule in the stadium because they don’t want to annoy the toughest in the standing room. They generally do not like controls – neither with regard to the vaccination status nor other personal data.
When it came to demarcation to the far right, Eintracht has set standards in recent years. Hardly any functionary in the football republic has spoken out so clearly and vehemently against the AfD as Peter Fischer, the president of Eintracht. He was rightly praised for this.
But Fischer has also been noticeable for years through a rather unreflective closeness and love of fans. It is one reason for his decades of power. But also a factor in what is out of control. It is very simple: violence remains violence – no matter in whose name it is carried out. Eintracht would be well advised to recognize this before the Ultras return to the curve. And to fight against it. Even if it hurts.