Bundesliga News

Union President Zingler hits back at Söder: "Football is not the problem!"

By Peter Vice

In still another very significant development concerning German footballing attendance, the Berlin Senate adjourned from a meeting on Friday with new mandates for capital city sides Hertha BSC and 1. FC Union Berlin.

After this weekend, both clubs will be restricted to a maximum 5,000 spectators. The new regulation shall come into force for Union's Conference League fixture against Slavia Prague on Thursday.

Hertha has already released a statement condemning the new mandate and calling it "incomprehensible."

As of yet, there is no word from Union Berlin.

One can nevertheless surmise what FCU President Dirk Zingler thinks about the decision based on a massive critcal rant delivered at a press conference yesterday.

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Yesterday, on the same day that Bavarian Premier Markus Söder (CSU) specifically singled out football for being unhelpful in his government's attempt to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus, the often outspoken 1. FC Union President Dirk Zingler shot directly back at the governor of Germany's second most populous state.


Ahead of Union's general meeting, Zingler went on a rambling diatribe about the German government's handling of the pandemic. He also directly referred to Söder (a failed Chancellor candidate) as "that clown from Bavaria", leaving little doubt in a follow-up question that he meant to do so.

Zingler's not-entirely-coherent rampage may not reflect the views of the vast majority of Germany's citizens or football fans in general, the content of his invective onslaught is of some relevance to both football and the Bundesrepublik.

In another promised addendum to our weekly look at the state of Bundesliga fan return, we'll supply a translation of Zingler's comments at a Thursday presser when speaking on the topic of the extra restrictions his club must face amid Germany's fourth pandemic wave.

Journalist Jan Rehinhold of German footballing magazine Kicker chronicled some portions of the presser. Bulinews' Peter Vice supplies the translation.

On the current political situation in the Bundesrepublik:


"Our country is in a catastrophic state because it's been catastrophically managed and [the COVID crisis] has been catastrophically communicated. It's full chaos. It's been almost inconceivable to me how poorly this country has been run. The shifting of responsibility onto people, organizers, and entrepreneurs is almost unbearable."

"We get press conferences and then, some weeks later, decrees that contain nothing other than the posturing of the press conferences. People get upset about full football stadiums, but no one gets upset about long lines at vaccination centers that operate with too small a staff and too little vaccine."

On the responsibility of professional football as a role model:

"I can remember Karl-Heinz Rummenigge saying a year ago that we should all set an example and allow ourselves to be vaccinated. There was then a wave of indignation about professional footballers jumping to the front of the line. Eighteen months later, a single member of a group that has a vaccination rate of over 90 percent [referring to Joshua Kimmich initially] is being pilloried for not getting vaccinated."

"That's how absurd corona politics have become in this country. That our federal government concerns itself with an individual in an occupation group that is 90 to 95 perfect vaccinated is a scandal and I'm not just talking about Kimmich. If social solidarity is demanded, then the country should deliver for once."

"The state should stand in solidarity with it's people and do its homework. Provide vaccinations. Hire 30,000 nurses and organize intensive care beds. After that, it can demand solidarity from its citizens."

On the role of the new regime:

"I would like to see clear leadership. There must be clear leadership through crises and solid communication in the process. That's what we don't get. We're in total chaos. I'm glad that this government that is leaving got voted out of office and, ideally, we'll get a clean start."

"[We have seen] professional conduct when it comes to the coalition talks, with nothing leaking out. I've seen some degree of professionalism. And if that clown from Munich [almost certainly referring to Bavarian governor and failed CDU chancellor candidate Markus Söder] isn't part of it, that pleases me."

More on football and the federal government:

"Football shouldn't be placed in the position of having to deliver. The state must deliver and must do so through sensible communication and sensible Corona policy. I spent hours in an intensive care unit for five weeks in 2021 [due to an COVID infection affecting someone in Zingler's personal environment] and I know what I'm talking about."

"I know the burden the nurses are under. They don't have to tell me anything. Football is not the problem. The problem is that we lost 30,000 nursing care workers and 6,000 intensive care beds during the pandemic. The state must first do its homework, then it can restrict basic rights among its citizens."

"Only then [after the state does its homework] will I have understanding and the feeling that they've tried everything and pushed the limits of what is possible. A certain Berlin health official [postulated by journalist Reinhold to be Dilek Kalyci (SPD)] sits down with me and just talks about wanting to forbid more."

"I'm at a loss for words. This notion that we can only stop infections by forbidding more is the point, for me personally, where I unfortunately exist the discussion. I'm done."


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