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stadion

Football in Germany

In many countries, watching a game of the respective nation’s favorite sport is an excellent way to become closely acquainted with the country one is visiting. Germany is no exception to this rule, as each weekend, the game of football (or soccer) turns atheists into believers and quiet persons into raging supporters and has the potential to let grown men and women cry like children. Stadiums across the country are the main draw for hundreds of thousands of fans each week, celebrating their teams victories as well as long-standing rivalries between specific teams.

The main season usually lasts from August through May and in addition to regular season games, there are cup games, European cup matches and the national squad’s games, either friendlies or qualifiers for one of the next international championships. The professional teams play in the 1., 2. and 3. Bundesliga, but there are numerous additional leagues below that level, going all the way down to one village playing the neighboring one in all of Germany’s regions. Children may start playing the game as early as at age 5 or 6 and in the past years, women’s soccer has gradually gained more attention, thanks in part to the successes of the Women’s national team and the World Championships hosted by Germany in 2011. The Men’s team has qualified for all World and European championships in history and has won the World title three times, in 1954, 1974 and 1990. Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006 and in preparation of this event, many stadiums were either built completely new or have been updated thoroughly.

The 1. Bundesliga is widely considered to be one of the strongest leagues in the world. Eighteen teams compete for the title of German champion, with each team playing each other twice per season, once away and once on their home ground. There are a number of teams in Germany with a widespread and enthusiastic fan base across the country (or sometimes across Europe) and it is these teams’ home games that give visitors the most impressive experiences. Tickets usually start at around 20 Euros and can go all the way up to several hundred Euros for high-profile games. For these, it is often very difficult to come by any tickets at all. If you are planning on a stadium visit and are not familiar with the German fan culture or go with family, it is advisable not to choose the cheapest tickets as these will put you right in the middle of the most fierce supporters - which is not an environment well suited for a family experience. The most loyal fans consider it their duty to chant and holler over the full 90 minutes of a game and sometimes, the atmosphere may turn sour among these fans (especially since beer is sold in all German stadiums). A stadium experience as a whole, however, is a great thing for the whole family and there are some stadiums which feature an area of seats designated for families.

The following is a list of the teams which enjoy the most widespread support in Germany and beyond. To obtain tickets for these teams’ home games, visit their websites.

Team

Website

Stadium

Remarks

FC Bayern Munich

www.fcbayern.telekom.de

Allianz Arena,
Munich
(capacity 69,900)

Most successful German football club, has won 22 national and a number of international titles. Usually has the most prominent players and the largest budget. Well-liked around Munich, mostly disliked outside of Bavaria. Impressive home grounds, but atmosphere is better elsewhere.

Borussia Dortmund

www.bvb.de

Westfalenstadion, Dortmund
(capacity 80,700)

German champions of 2011 and 2012, Borussia (the name of a female figure representing Prussia) has a broad fan base in the entire country. Entertaining a long-standing rivalry with Schalke 04, Dortmund is one of the teams from the especially football-fanatic Rhine-Ruhr area.

FC Schalke 04

www.schalke04.de

Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen
(capacity 61,700)

Traditional team from the distinctively blue-collar Rhine-Ruhr area. Many devoted fans in the entire country, often referring back to a glorious past. Returned to success since the 1990s. One of the most impressive stadium experiences in a modern arena with great atmosphere.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

www.borussia.de

Borussia-Park, Mönchengladbach (capacity 54,000)

The club’s most successful times were the 1970s, when their then-fresh way of playing the game found many supporters in the country, most of which remain loyal fans to this day. 5 national championships back then. Good stadium atmosphere in an arena opened as recently as 2004.

FC St. Pauli

www.fcstpauli.de

Millerntor-Stadion, Hamburg,
(capacity 24,500)

Very unique club currently in the second-tier league with a large fan base across Germany. Known for a notoriously tight budget, the club promotes likes to cast itself as outsiders and consequently has never been able to achieve any major success on the field. Small, old stadium with very loyal fans.