The most famous anti-fascist team in the world returns to the elite of German football 13 years later

Monumental party in Hamburg’s red light district. While the ‘big’ team of the city and the historic team of German football continues for another year in the second division – until 2018 it had never been relegated – the other team, the humble one, achieves promotion to the Bundesliga thirteen years later. But the St Pauli festival does not stop only in Hamburg. Crosses international borders.

Who has never seen a black t-shirt with a white skull and the name St Pauli? They take it to people who have never seen a football game in their life. And much less from this humble German team. But they do it because St Pauli’s political and social ideas are international.

It is a club with soul. With soul, yes, scoundrel and punk, anti-fascist and working-class. And it has more than 11 million recognized followers throughout Germany and about 200 supporters clubs around the world, something that other larger entities, such as Werder Bremen or Hamburg SV, do not even dare to dream of.

They play in an old stadium called Millenrtorn that does not even have a trophy room: the club’s greatest feat is beating Bayern 2-1, which won the Champions League against Valencia. In one area of ​​the stadium they display a plaque that says ‘winners of the Club World Champion’.

And yesterday the stadium almost collapsed after the promotion of St Pauli. Literal. Because as soon as the new Bundesliga team was proclaimed, the fans invaded the grass and celebrated the feat with the players. Even the team captain climbed into the stands to celebrate: “I have never felt anything like this. I know what it means to people. That’s why I came here and I’m grateful to be captain of this team,” Jackson Irvine acknowledged.

They can still put the icing on the cake. If they win in the last match, they will also be proclaimed champions of the German second division.

St Pauli, in depth

Although the official name of the team, FC Sankt Pauli von 1910, refers to its founding a century ago, it is advisable not to take that number too seriously: the first official matches date back to 1904 and the true metamorphosis of the club took place in the early 80s, when the red light district of Hamburg, the one in which the Beatles confessed to having “become men”, became an alternative human hotbed, a mecca for punks from all over Europe, the heart of the squatter movement and home to brothels illuminated by neon lights. The regular population of the neighborhood, made up of workers from the Hamburg docks, took on the invasion of mohawks and pierced ears as best they could. And all united, workers and young rebels, decided to make their own that soccer team that was languishing dressed in brown, an unusual color, and whose stadium was next to the port.

Little by little, St Pauli, at first a fairly conservative club, began to assume the ideology of its new fans. The first local punks came up with a flag (a thick skull on a black background) that has become the club’s emblem and has given it the most common nickname today: “the Elbe pirates.” The entity defines itself as anti-fascist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic and leads by example: the board changed the old name of the stadium, dedicated to a historic leader, Wilhelm Koch, upon discovering his Nazi past.

St Pauli, furthermore, is not one to fall into the madness of the capitalist market and perhaps that is why it will go down next year. This time they may not even be able to beat Bayern Munich. But it won’t matter too much either. The Elbe pirates are above any result.

2024-05-13 05:32:57
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