Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga clash against Freiburg was suspended on Friday night for ten minutes amid fan unrest at proposals over a new commercial deal that could be implemented to clubs in Germany.
Former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can was seen approaching supporters in the first-half in a bid to calm unrest among the fans inside the Signal Iduna Park.
Supporters had expressed their displeasure over the new investment plans by throwing tennis balls and coins onto the playing field.
The game was suspended for ten minutes during the first-half, before the home side went on to claim a 3-0 victory.
Dortmund fans were also seen unveiling a banner behind one of the goals that read ‘Nein zu investoren in the DFL’ which translates to ‘No investors in the German Football League (DFL)’.
The protests come after German clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 had voted in favour to sell an eight per cent stake in the media rights to both of the country’s top two football leagues for a period of over 20 years.
Emre Can was seen speaking to fans inside the Signul Iduna Park after Dortmund’s game against Freiburg was suspended due to unrest among supporters
Fans threw coins and tennis balls onto the pitch in protest at the German Football Association’s plans to sell off a minority stake in the DFL’s media rights
Stewards were seen picking up the missiles during the brief interlude in the first-half
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Twenty-four of the 36 clubs across the two divisions had voted in favour of the move that would allow the German Football Association’s (DFL) executives to negotiate a deal that could be worth approximately £683m (€800m) and £853m (€1billion).
Several private equity firms, including Blackstone Group, CVC Capital Partners and EQT have, according to Bloomberg, tabled bids.
The plans have been met with great animosity among fans, who believe in the traditional values of the leagues. They are concerned stakeholders and executives could be pressured into changing the current format to suit TV rights holders and viewers at the detriment of fans inside the stadiums.
ESPN reporter Archie Rhind-Tutt gave some clarity on the current situation, claiming that the move ‘is not something that is appealing to fans’.
Speaking pitchside at the match, he said: ‘The idea being to pump another billion Euros into the Bundesliga through private equity investment to make it more competitive on all levels. This is not something that is particularly appealing to the fans, as they’ve been making clear with numerous protests in the past two weeks.’
Hamburg’s 2-1 victory away to Hertha Berlin last week was also delayed by approximately 32 minutes, with Rhind-Tutt saying: ‘It rained tennis balls, chocolate gold coins, those little bouncy balls as well.
‘Any way, why? They are against commercialisation. They look at what’s happened elsewhere in Europe and think, “no that’s not for us.”
Similar scenes had also erupted in Hannover’s 4-3 victory against Hamburg on Friday evening, with fans chaining locks to the goalposts at half-time.
Players were seen gesticulating with the referee after tennis balls and coins were thrown onto the pitch
The home fans unfurled banners that stated: ‘No investors in the German Football League (DFL)’.
‘Generally, investors in German football is not something that is particularly appealing when you look at what’s happened to numerous tradition-laiden clubs. You think about the private equity links to Saudi Arabia and this is not something that they’re particularly keen on.’
Donyell Malen put the hosts 1-0 up after 17 minutes, thumping the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal after finding himself in plenty of space inside the box. He’d hit back again just before half time to score his second of the match, combining with Niclas Fullkrug to double their lead.
Fullkrug would wrap up the match in the 87th minute, heading in a lovely cross from Ian Maatsen to score his 11 goal of the season in all competitions.