By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Bundesliga Fan Scene: The complete nationwide picture heading into Matchday 13

Our weekly look at the stage of fan re-entry in Germany's top footballing flight has much to report this week. As expected, rapidly shifting state-level regulations and even a newly formed federal regime drastically alters the circumstances of the German footballing fan scene.

In order to give our readers the most complete picture of how, where, when, and even if German football fans are attending fixtures, our column this week contains three sections.

In the first section, we'll take a look at the present state-level regulations affecting all 18 top flight Bundesliga clubs.

All of this information has been gleaned from the latest updates published by the state governments themselves and (as of Thursday evening) is up-to-the minute.

The second section catalogues the attendance figures from all nine Bundesliga fixtures from last weekend, matchday 12.

The third section reports on the comprehensive "plans for fans" in the nine hosting cities for this weekend, matchday 13.

It is once again our pleasure to report upon all the relevant local public health data in the nine German cities preparing to host Bundesliga matches this weekend in our "plans for fans" section.

The data is again sourced from Germany's Robert Koch Institute and compiled/actualized for public display by Germany's Süddetusche Zeitung.
Right at the top of our weekly attendance column, we must mention the big news coming out of the German Bundesrepublik. Precisely 59 days after federal elections were held in late September, the country has a new coalition government. Negotiations on a three-party governing regime (SPD, FDP, Grüne) were concluded yesterday.

The so-called "Traffic Light Coalition Government" (so-named after the colors of the three parties comprising it) will be country's first true three-party-federal governing regime since the second Konrad Adenauer administration of 1953-1957. This also happened to be the second ever federal election of the post-war Bundesrepublik, meaning that the country is about to embark on a historically unparalleled experiment.

A governing regime of this type (two center-left parties and a very old pro-business party back in parliament due mostly to pandemic fatigue) has not been seen before. It's hold remains tenous. As a result, while we will see some federal policy COVID come out of the regime in the coming days, a nation-wide vaccine mandate for all citizens like the one neighboring Austria plans to implement in February 2022, will surely not be on the table.

Practically speaking, that means that COVID regulations will still be largely left up to Germany's 16 federal "Bundesländer" (states). Just as we did last week, we'll examine what ramifications this has for all 18 Bundesliga clubs hosting fixtures in Germany's top footballing tier. The regulations have changed drastically from just seven days ago.

Most importantly, there is a new "2G" regulation in place. The "2G+" regulation bears no resemblance to the "2G+" regulation we've discussed in columns past. This new, more stringent requirement, restrictions access to a space even for the vaccinated and recovered. Those wishing to attend an event must also pay for and obtain their own negative COVID test from the past 48 hours in order to enter.

The current state of corona-related restrictions for public events like football matches in Germany can thus be summarized by three main operational procedures:

I. "2G" ("Geimpft" (vaccinated), "Genesen" (recovered)

Only citizens demonstrating proof of vaccination or recovery may attend an event or enter a space.

II. "2G+" ("Geimpft" (vaccinated), "Genesen" (recovered)

Only citizens demonstrating proof of vaccination or recovery may attend an event or enter a space. For areas deemed especially high-risk, the vaccinated or recovered must also present a negative COVID PCR test from the last 48 hours.

II. "3G" ("Geimpft" (vaccinated), "Genesen" (recovered), "Getestet" (tested)

Vaccinated, recovered, or tested citizens may attend an event or enter a space.

We'll now proceed to take a look at the how all of the state-level regulations are looking in the homes of all 18 Bundesliga clubs. Eight of the country's 16 states have teams currently playing in the top flight.

Nordrhein-Westfalen (North-Rhine Westphalia)--Six Bundesliga clubs

(Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Arminia Bielefeld, VfL Bochum, 1. FC Köln)

As expected, significant restrictions for the unvaccinated were applied by the state's governing coalition. What amounts to a state-wide "2G" mandate went into effect on Wednesday (November 24th). The entry restrictions for the non-vaccinated apply to all branches of leisure and hospitality as well as all outdoor public events.

For especially high-risk areas such as discotheques and carnival events must operate under the state's "2G+". Note that this does not apply to outdoor events such as football matches or Christmas markets yet. The Bundesliga clubs of this region may also continue with their current attendance allotments so long as they comply with "2G".

Baden-Württemberg--Three Bundesliga clubs

(TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, VfB Stuttgart, SC Freiburg)

Already enforcing "2G" since last week, BaWü clamps down even further. This large German state even accords some of its districts autonomy to enforce stricter rules. Some districts even place the vaccinated under house-arrest and curfews. At present, "2G" excludes non-vaccinated individuals from practically all areas of public life. This includes all events and retail outlets except "basic needs" establishments such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

As this column was being prepared, state broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR) reported that the more stringent "2G+" would apply to a wide-range of outdoor events, including football matches. Thus far this cannot be fully confirmed, but the one hosting BaWü club this weekend (Stuttgart) will be using "2G+".

Bayern (Bavaria)--Three Bundesliga clubs

(FC Bayern München, FC Augsburg, SpVgg Greuther Fürth)

Bavaria's regulations remain the strictest in the nation. Unlike in other states, "2G" applies to universities, hairdressers, and adult education centers. Libraries, museums, bars, clubs, and discotheques have been ordered to outright close through December 15th. Private life is tightly controlled as well, with only five people from two different households being allowed to congregate at one time.

As we reported last week, all the state's football clubs must now operate at 25 percent stadium capacity. Moreover, football matches might be cancelled if a local incidence rate exceeds 1,000 per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the latest data, 12 districts in the south west corner of the state have exceeded this threshold. Munich and its three professional tier football clubs (1860 and Türkgücü play in the 3. Liga) lie closest to these hotspots.

None of the state's professional clubs are near the 1,000 threshold yet, though Augsburg's city district passed 600 today.

Berlin City-State--Two Bundesliga clubs

(Hertha BSC, 1. FC Union Berlin)

The capital city's "2G/2G+" protocols are fairly straightforward. When it comes to football, however, matters are something of arithmetical mess. The Berliner Senate released specific rules for both the Olympiastadion and the Stadion An der Alten Försterei yesterday. Complex formulas and imprecise wording immediately sent German football journalists scrambling for clarification via direct inquiries.

Essentially, it works like this: If the number of live spectators at an event is sure to exceed 5,000, then the stadiums are permitted to fill up to 50 percent of the remaining capacity of the stadium. Thus, we arrive at a figure of 39,738 for the Olympiastadion and 13,500 in the Köpenick quarter. One must subtract 5,000 from the stadium's full capacity and then divide by two.

Note that Union, as part of the conclusion of the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage, will be playing in the Olympiastadion on December 9th.

Lower Saxony--One Bundesliga club

(VfL Wolfsburg)

The state government of Germany's most misleadingly named state ("Niedersachen" lies above the other two Saxonys) developed an "alarm level" tier system linked to the hospitalization rate. Currently operating at "warning level two", all businesses must enforce "2G+". Sporting venues are capped at 50-percent-capacity.

One should note that none of this directly affects the state's Bundesliga club. VfL Wolfsburg have been operating under "2G" since week five. Moreover, as every German football fan knows, Germany's green company team struggles to fill its seats under normal conditions. Outdoor seating areas can still operate without "2G+" if they provide checkerboard seating.

Saxony (Saxon Proper)--One Bundesliga club

(RasenBallSport Leipzig)

As we noted with deep regret last weekend, Germany's third "Geisterpiele Era" commences this weekend. Saxon Proper simply shuts everything down. Restaurants and other businesses face curfews. Hotels are forbidden from booking tourists from out-of-state. Bars, clubs, and discos are closed outright. Pretty much nothing going on here.

Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate)--One Bundesliga club

(FSV Mainz 05)

The Palatinate passed its own Infection Protection Act, directly linked to hospitalization rates. On Wednesday (November 25hth , the COVID hospitalization rate exceeded three patients per 100,000, automatically switching public life in the Pfalz from "3G" to "2G". Should that rate double in the next week, "2G+" will apply.

Sports venues do not face a capacity cap of any sort of any sort provided that they comply with the regulations. Given that Mainz has been self-imposing capacity caps, one can assume that they will do so again here.

Hessen ("Hesse")--One Bundesliga club

(Eintracht Frankfurt)

The seat of Germany's financial and commercial capital doesn't wish to shut down business entirely. Accordingly, "2G" is reserved for such businesses as casinos, restaurants, and indoor sports venues. The state remains very liberal with just about everything else, dispensing with the "2G/3G" debate entirely and simply enforcing a masking requirement.

Interestingly, as we'll explore in greater depth below, Frankfurt will be the only Bundesliga club allowing in unvaccinated visitors under "3G" this weekend. It is almost certain to be the case that both club and state will switch to "2G" in the coming weeks, meaning these may be the last unvaccinated fans permitted to watch a live football match for some time.

We'll now take a look at attendance figures from last weekend, adding a bit of context regarding all of the respective fan-scenes along the way. Note that, for the first time this season, only one of the nine fixtures sold out. The Union-Hertha derby took place before a full house. Note that this easily constitutes the worst sell-out record of the season. We have been tracking the attendance figures here at Bulinews since round one.

Last weekend's numbers undeniably proved that a portion of the German population wishes to self-isolate by staying away from large public events. It's nevertheless not as large a contingent as some might expect. Eight of the nine hosting clubs sold over 75 percent of their ticket allotments. That certainly shows how much Germans love their Bundesliga football!

FC Bayern München (at) FC Augsburg

Planned capacity = 30,660 (100%)

Attendance = 26,000 (84%)

Concept = 2G

Crowd atmospherics were initially somewhat subdued at the WWK Arena on Friday night. Songs and chants proved very faint among the supporters dutifully sitting masked in their seats. The pitch rose somewhat as the home team inched closer to what would ultimately be a sensational upset. Few could resist the temptation to lift up their voices near the end of a big night for the FCA.

The very cautious club from the Swabian section of Bavaria welcomed what was by far their largest crowd of season in this one. This was actually the first time that the Fuggerstädter put an allotment of over 17,500 (half-capacity) on sale. The new Bavarian restrictions mean that it will also surely be the largest Augsburg crowd of 2021. One-quarter-capacity at the WWK restricts the FCA to 7,665 live fans for the foreseeable future.

VfB Stuttgart (at) Borussia Dortmund

Planned capacity = 67,000 (82%)

Attendance = 57,900 (86.4%)

Concept = 3G

The BVB still drew a massive crowd to Signal-Iduna, even though one can infer from past attendance figures that the local corona situation cost the club approximately 5,000-8,000 fans through the turnstiles. That still amounts to a rather low reticence rate in the local population. One shouldn't expect a great deal of self-isolation in Nordrhein-Westfalen.

The very outspoken club boss Hans-Joachim Watzke acknowledged that the BVB would accept all new state regulations and move to "2G" for the next home match against Bayern. The 61-year-old, speaking at the club's general meeting last week, also didn't shy away from saying a myriad of other things in a diatribe of sorts against nation-wide regulations and visiting fans from states with lower vaccination rates.

In a textbook case of "Acki being Acki", Watzke said that "We here in NRW have done our homework" and insisted that his club and his state had the best plans for safely hosting open-air-events. The executive then continued to work the crowd by claiming that the BVB stood "above the petty politics" moving towards us.

VfL Bochum (at) Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Planned capacity = 29,542 (98%)

Attendance = 22,538 (76.3%)

Concept = 2G

Both the strength of the opponent and the local COVID situation likely played a role in a comparatively low total attendance figure for Germany's red company team. Crowd atmospherics, as always, were lively and chipper. Germany's red company team--christened so because their are owned by a pharmaceutical giant--switched to "2G" relatively early.

Anyone interested to know Rudi Völler (a.k.a "Tante Käthe's") views on the vaccination debate should know that the former national team coach boasted that Leverkusen convinced all players and staff to take the shot. Reflecting upon his club's 100 percent vaccination rate, Völler called it "indecent" for people without medical reasons to decline the vaccine and labeled the situation in the Bundesrepublik "a right fine mess."

SpVgg Greuther Fürth (at) Borussia Mönchengladbach

Planned capacity = 48,500 (90%)

Attendance = 38,621 (79.6%)

Concept = 3G

Even if Greuther Fürth's limp efforts against a much higher octane opponent means this encounter pushed the definition of a "football match", this one certainly had the atmosphere of one. A reduced crowd still managed to sound as loud as they did in the now infamous Pokal match. We'll be expecting another one for the big Rheinland derby this weekend.

RasenBallSport Leipzig (at) TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Planned capacity = 30,150 (100%)

Attendance = 13,233 (43.9%)

Concept = 2G

While it will officially be Leipzig-Leverkusen that kicks off Germany's third "Geisterspiele Era" this coming Sunday, the latest version of "El Plastico" definitely qualified as the first German football match of the 2021/22 season that felt like a spectator-free "ghost game".

Despite the fact that there were well over 10,000 fans in the seats, one could hear the players/coaches communicating with each other on the pitch throughout the home side's 2-0 victory. A sad portend of things to come.

VfL Wolfsburg (at) Arminia Bielefeld

Planned capacity = 25,000 (91%)

Attendance = 19,801 (79.2%)

Concept = 3G

Great atmosphere at the Alm on Saturday for what was definitely the best offering of the 15:30 kickoffs. We'll all be keeping our fingers crossed that the Bielefeld fan scene gets a chance to strut their full colors before a probable relegation at the end of the year. Watching the DSC play before empty seats last year counted as absolute torture.

Hertha BSC (at) FC Union Berlin

Planned capacity = 22,012 (100%)

Attendance = 22,012 (sold out)

Concept = 2G

German football fans savored every minute of in. After all, this was just the second capital city derby to take place before a crowd ever. The two sides contested another match during the 2019 Hinrunde; back before the world forever changed. Such a simpler time

All of the enthusiasm being noted, there did appear to be some restraint on behalf of the fans. This was because there's obviously trepidation about what's coming. The sports editorial sections of the Bundesrepublik were also rather reserved on Monday morning. They exhibited distinctively German dread.

Eintracht Frankfurt (at) SC Freiburg

Planned capacity = 34,700 (100%)

Attendance = 32,500 (93.6%)

Concept = 2G

The probable planned capacity statistics in last week's column attempted to do a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on the number of standing bleachers in Freiburg's new stadium. The failed calculus either grossly overestimated the number of them (this Bundesliga diehard hasn't had a chance to check out the new venue yet) or relied upon false information that Freiburg would be implementing the new protocols immediately.

In any event, it was a great match; definitely one worthy of the extra scrutiny in the "tactical focus" section of our weekly recap column. The SCF never fail to deliver. Period. Flawed individuals sometimes get the numbers wrong. The Breisgauer collective always manages to get it right.

FC Köln (at) FSV Mainz 05

Planned capacity = 30,000 (90%)

Attendance = 25,500 (85%)

Concept = 2G/3G

Another great game replete with a wonderful atmosphere. Mainz aimed for their largest capacity crowd of the season and got it. We've almost certainly seen the last of the club's hybrid "2G/3G" model, both in the Pfalz and in the country in general. The demise of what was once labeled "2G+" isn't something to feel sad about, as it really just amounted to an ugly separation principle that didn't serve anyone.

Time to take a look at the weekend ahead. It's "data-driven" city once again for the German Bundesrepublik. We'll report on all of the COVID related statistics that we did last week. The only one very subtle new feature concerns the statewide vaccination rates, which we'll assess the movement of from last time.

One wishes to draw attention to the new feature because it happens to be enormously important. Vaccination rates across the country, with the exception of the state (Saxon Proper) with the most draconian restrictions, are barely rising at all. True, it has not been long since the new lockdown measures were implemented. Hopes that the new measures may change enough minds nevertheless do not appear strong.

FSV Mainz 05 (at) VfB Stuttgart

Planned capacity = 25,000 (40%)

Concept = 2G+

Masking mandate = Stadium-wide

For those with the proper documentation and the desire to pay for a PCR test, the Mercedes Benz Arena is open for business. Friday night fixtures often get good attendance rates, even if (as is most definitely the case with Stuttgart) the team is struggling. One can expect protests outside the stadium as the country's southern Autostädt is one of the bases of the notorious "Querdenke" ("lateral thinkers") movement.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 334 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 91.2%

45 COVID Hospitalizations (19.8%)

Baden-Württemberg State Vaccination Rate = 68.1% (+0.6%)

Borussia Dortmund (at) VfL Wolfsburg

Planned capacity = 13,281 (50%)

Concept = 2G

Masking mandate = When moving to and from seats

Wolfsburg will still operate with "2G" using a specially designed checkerboard seating pattern in accordance with state law. The re-seating assignment meant that many of the advanced sales had to be cancelled. This should prove a great football match, meaning that some locals will turn up for it.

It remains likely, however, that considerably less than 10,000 patrons will be on hand to view one of the weekend's best offerings. While the local incidence rate is comparatively low, many won't care for all the hassles of re-purchasing/re-seating.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 247.9 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 96.6%

8 COVID Hospitalizations (28.6%)

Lower Saxony State Vaccination Rate = 73.0% (+0.3%)

FC Augsburg (at) Hertha BSC

Planned capacity = 39,738 (53.5%)

Concept = 2G+

Masking mandate = Stadium-wide

One expects another low turnout here in the capital, in spite of the fact that the Berliner Senate's formula places plenty of tickets on sale. The Olympiastadion AG's stadium-wide FFP-2 masking mandate will discourage some, as will fans having to pay for their own PCR test under "2G+".

We're also dealing with Hertha of course, though they do stand a good chance of actually winning this time. Matters are going to get very interesting in the capital's Charlottenburg district when the company that owns the stadium attempts to pack in the Union ultras on December 9th.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 335.1 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 91%

200 COVID Hospitalizations (20%)

Berlin City-State Vaccination Rate = 71.4% (+0.7%)

Borussia Mönchengladbach (at) FC Köln

Planned capacity = 50,000 (100%)

Concept = 2G

Masking mandate = When moving to and from seats

There are some conflicting reports about the planned capacity here. NRW regulations in place reportedly allowed Köln to sell the full allotment of tickets. Some of these may need to be refunded as 1,500 or more of them are in the standing bleachers.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 295.1 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 94.5%

49 COVID Hospitalizations (14.2%)

NRW Vaccination Rate = 74.9% (+0.4%)

SC Freiburg (at) VfL Bochum

Planned capacity = 20,000 (72%)

Concept = 2G

Masking mandate = When moving to and from seats

The Castrop should be packed under some of the (comparatively) laxer NRW regulations. Local (comparatively high) vaccination rates also have the city of the 1848ers dealing with manageable local public health statistics. Hopefully, there will be plenty on hand for a very intriguing match.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 253.5 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 89.2%

17 COVID Hospitalizations (10.3%)

NRW Vaccination Rate = 74.9% (+0.4%)

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) SpVgg Greuther Fürth

Planned capacity = 4,625 (25%)

Concept = 2G+

Masking mandate = Stadium-wide

The Bavarian 25-percent-capacity cap renders it nearly impossible for the SpVgg to host something not resembling a Geisterpiel. It stands to reason that few will be compelled to attend this fixture with local incidence rates very high and the additional payment obligations under "2G+".

An interesting aspect of this small town in Middle Franconia, as you can see below, is that a high vaccination rate can keep the hospitalization rate under control even when the incidence rate is high.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 622.4 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 80%

10 COVID Hospitalizations (27.8%)

Bavaria Vaccination Rate = 68.4% (+0.8%)

DSC Arminia Bielefeld (at) Bayern München

Planned capacity = 18,745 (25%)

Concept = 2G+

Masking mandate = When moving to and from seats

Again, the strict Bavarian 25-percent-capacity cap means that the Allianz will mostly be empty again. One should be able to hear Thomas "Radio" Müller continually directing his teammates on the pitch. For those who enjoy that part of Müller's game, there's that.

At this point, it bears repeating that the Bavarian clubs will be forced to cancel their home fixtures should the local incidence rate exceed 1,000. That remains a distinct possibility over the coming winter.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 497.6 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 93.5%

135 COVID Hospitalizations (26.3%)

Bavaria Vaccination Rate = 68.4% (+0.8%)

FC Union Berlin (at) Eintracht Frankfurt

Planned capacity = 40,000 (78%)

Concept = 2G/3G

Masking mandate = None

Here we have something very interesting to report. As noted above in the first section, the German federal state of Hessen remains liberal in its application of measures during this fourth wave. That can and will probably change in the coming weeks.

For the time being, some 4,000 seats have been reserved for unvaccinated supporters with a negative PCR test. The SGE effectively sticks to its original concept. There also will be no masking requirement in the stadium. To those who may have missed it, the club actually fought a public relations battle with the state last summer....and effectively won.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 357.9 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 90.3%

53 COVID Hospitalizations (20.3%)

Hessen Vaccination Rate = 70.7% (+0.3%)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (at) RasenBallSport Leipzig

Planned capacity = Geisterspiel

Concept = N/A

Masking mandate = N/A

Nothing really to add here other than the final fixture of round 12 forces us to end this column on the saddest possible note. Football without fans is back. Like it or not, here it comes. About the only good news emerging from this region of the country concerns the fact that the harsh measures did up the statewide vaccination rate significantly.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 896.1 per 100,000

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 87.3%

54 COVID Hospitalizations (18.7%)

Saxon Proper Vaccination Rate = 60.2% (+2.2%)

Thanks so much for reading!

You can occasionally catch Peter on twitter, @ViceytheSS.

Twitter DMs are open for football conversations, corrections, and (if you truly insist) general abuse. 

All columns debut on Bulinews before appearing on Peter's website later in the week.

Euro 2024

Bundesliga End of Season Awards

Long reads

Exclusive interviews

Team News