THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

Soccer 360 - - Inside -

THE GOOD

Football fans don’t al­ways get the credit they de­serve. And they very rarely get treated well by the pow­ers that be in the beau­ti­ful game, with con­cern over money and global TV rights often para­mount over the views of the fans.

But not al­ways in Ger­many. The Bun­desliga is often her­alded as the per­fect model for football fans, com­pared to the big money ticket of the Pre­mier League for ex­am­ple. And when the fans needs aren’t cen­tral to the de­ci­sion mak­ing, you can bet they make their voices heard.

In re­cent sea­sons they’ve protested ris­ing ticket prices, the threat to the 50+1 rule and the im­pact of the glob­al­i­sa­tion of the game. And big on their agenda has been Mon­day night matches. While Mon­day Night Football has been a sta­ple of the Pre­mier League since its in­cep­tion, it’s a rel­a­tively re­cent phe­nom­e­non in Ger­many. One that hasn’t gone down well.

The Ger­man sup­port­ers were in­stantly against it when it was first in­tro­duced to the Bun­desliga last sea­son, feel­ing that it was in­con­ve­nient, dis­rupted their week and was a de­ci­sion that was taken for TV rather than them. Of course they protested, with Dort­mund fans com­pletely boy­cotting Mon­day night fix­tures and Ein­tra­cht

Frank­furt fans throw­ing ten­nis balls onto the pitch dur­ing one Mon­day match.

Now it seems they’ve got their way with the Bun­desliga con­firm­ing in Novem­ber that Mon­day night matches would be dis­con­tin­ued when the next me­dia rights deal was ne­go­ti­ated ready for the 2021-22 sea­son. As you might ex­pect, this isn’t good enough for fans. Watch this space.

THE BAD

Re­ports at the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber sug­gested that four Bay­ern Munich play­ers have cre­ated a ‘ver­i­ta­ble op­po­si­tion’ to Coach Niko Ko­vac.

Re­ports first sur­faced af­ter the draw with Bun­desliga min­nows Freiburg at the Al­lianz Arena. This was just be­fore Bay­ern slipped seven points be­hind the old enemy, Borus­sia Dort­mund, when los­ing to their great ri­vals 3-2 at the West­falen­sta­dion. Re­port­edly, Thomas Muller, Ar­jen Robben, Frank Ribery and Mats Hum­mels are all in op­po­si­tion to the for­mer Bay­ern star’s meth­ods at the Al­lianz, in par­tic­u­lar the lack of game time that each of them has re­ceived. Ac­cord­ing to Kicker they are push­ing for the Croa­t­ian to be sacked and have even limited their ef­fort in matches to en­gi­neer poor re­sults that will force the board’s hand and rid them of a head coach that was only ap­pointed this sum­mer.

The 47-year-old has spent most of his half sea­son at the helm un­der con­stant pres­sure due to re­sults that have seen his side slip to fourth in the ta­ble and nine points be­hind Dort­mund at the time of writ­ing. At the back end of Novem­ber, he was given the dreaded vote of con­fi­dence from Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge but did re­ceive a stand­ing ova­tion from 350 Bay­ern fans when he vis­ited a fan club in Inzell at the start of De­cem­ber.

There is talk of ex-Ar­se­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger wait­ing in the wings to take over from Ko­vac if he is given the chop. What­ever the mer­its of Wenger, or the re­sults Bay­ern have achieved un­der Ko­vac, the last thing that any football fan wants to see is play­ers de­lib­er­ately not try­ing and fight­ing for the cause, es­pe­cially when things aren’t go­ing well.

THE UGLY

Schalke are tak­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault from a fe­male fan in their crowd ‘ex­tremely se­ri­ously.’

The story broke fol­low­ing their game at home to FC Nurn­berg at the end of Novem­ber when a fe­male fan said she was re­peat­edly groped by a man in the stands at the Veltins Arena. She has also al­leged that she was told by a ste­ward to “go home and watch on TV” if she did not like it. A com­plaint was filed im­me­di­ately af­ter the game, by a 22-year-old woman, ac­cord­ing to po­lice in Gelsenkirchen. The po­lice also con­firmed that they have opened a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and, that at the time of writ­ing, there are try­ing to iden­tify the man. They are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the con­duct of the ste­ward.

The word from the club is that they are tak­ing the al­le­ga­tions “very se­ri­ously”, adding “we are in the process of get­ting an over­view and work­ing in close co­op­er­a­tion with the po­lice”. An in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion from the club is un­der­way.

There was at least more pos­i­tive news for women in football as Aga Hegerberg won the first-ever Women’s Bal­lon d’Or. The Nor­way and Lyon striker fin­ished ahead of Wolfs­burg’s Den­mark in­ter­na­tional Pernille Harder, Ger­many’s Dzsenifer Marozsan and Eng­land’s Lucy Bronze, who both also rep­re­sent Lyon.

Hegerberg’s coronation was marred by pre­sen­ter Martin Solveig, who crassly asked her if she ‘knew how to twerk?’ He re­ceived a steely ‘no’ in re­ply and right­ful con­dem­na­tion on so­cial me­dia.

ABOVE:THE GOOD, Borus­sia Dort­mundABOVE LEFT:THE BAD, Niko Ko­vacLEFT:THE UGLY, Schalke

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