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Kay Bernstein: Requiem for an Ultra

There are things that have an impact even when they are missing. Fan chants, for example. A full, loud stadium: impressive. A full but very quiet stadium: overwhelming.

Last Sunday afternoon it was very quiet in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. 42,902 people stood in their seats and were silent. No singing, no shouting, no screaming. In the fan corner someone held a burning Bengalo in the air, a single smoking light. The banner in front of him read: “In memory of Kay Bernstein.”

The actual football game – Hertha BSC against Fortuna Düsseldorf – had become completely irrelevant. It was about something else, more important: the memory of Kay Bernstein, who died completely unexpectedly last week at the age of 43. It is not publicly known why, but after an autopsy the doctors assume a natural cause of death. “Dear Kay, it breaks our hearts,” says the stadium announcer at some point in the silence of the Olympic Stadium. Then his voice fails him. This is less a second division game, it is a requiem for a man who was something extraordinary in German football.

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