When the clock strikes midnight, my membership with Hertha BSC will officially come to an end. I can see y’all’s puzzled looks right now, the questionmarks above your heads. Truth be told, I am pretty much done with football / soccer.
It’s nothing that happened all of a sudden, but gradually. I know, I’ve always said this was a lifelong thing and I’d never ever abandon either the Old Lady or the sport as a whole, but here we are. Had you told me this like four years ago, I’d have questioned your sanity. Alas, I’ve felt my passion for the sport I grew up with die down more and more, so I am not quitting cold turkey here. I simply realized some time ago that I wasn’t that much INTO it anymore.
Mind, I’d (im-)patiently await the fixtures to come out, to be able to plan trips to away games or whatever. I legit planned the whole year around footie, and, as I’ve stated previously somewhere, I had a season ticket to Hertha home games even before I had a flat or a job here in Berlin. Go figure. Then again – priorities, you know?
However, I have a fall out with this sport. And have been having for a while. I cannot exactly pin point the moment it started, but I am just … I don’t FEEL this anymore. The over-saturation of games (pre-Corona, that is). Something I’d have welcomed with open arms years ago has had the opposite effect in the long run. Back in the day, I was excited about El Clasico, the game between Barcelona and Real. Nowadays, you have one of those pretty much every other week because new competitions would arise. It got boring.
So did the Bundesliga. I mean, yeah, I am used to support a mediocre team and Bayern winning the league for the umpteenth time. But. It’s getting old. A snore fest. The only somewhat exciting stuff is happening towards the end of the table where clubs try to avoid relegation which has often come down to the very wire.
Franchise clubs of a certain Austrian energy drink company are constantly on the rise, all while fucking over DFB, UEFA and FIFA regularly by finding loop holes in the rule book. A whole damn WORLD CUP has been given to Qatar, a country whose nationalteam has participated in a whopping amount of ZERO World Cups. Money talks. And then, years after that b/s happened, the Big Wigs suddenly realized that, oooops!, it’s hot there in Qatar in summer which is why the whole circus now comes to town in winter.
Next, we have the glorious VAR, which I, at first, thought was going to be a good idea in regards to tricky situations such as penalties, goals, offsides etc. Turned out, it is anything but. Just one example – RB Leipzig got a pen for an alleged handball vs Hertha. It was a dodgy decision, though, since no slo mo showed a clear, 100% handball. Yet, RBL got the pen.
However, when one of their players knocked down Hertha’s Niklas Stark in the penalty box, nothing happened. NOTHING. No review, no pen. And that situation was much, much clearer to see than the handball. A situation like that can make or break a team’s whole season.
Which brings me to the Old Lady. I mean, I’ve been around that club for 30 (!!) years now, 11 of which I was a member. But what’s been going on as of recent has pushed me away, especially the drama that occurred when the bosses had the wonderful idea to appoint a certain Jürgen Klinsmann as the headcoach. That had to backfire, and everyone who ever watched “Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen.” (the documentary about the World Cup 2006) saw the fiasco coming from 10 miles away. Yes, on the paper, “Klinsi” was the HC, but if you looked closer, he was more of the motivator, while Jogi Löw was the one to hand out tactics etc. Well, well, well …
So, Klinsi comes in with a lot of pomp and circumstance, blabs of Big City Club this, Champions League that, all whilst the club was in danger of being relegated again. I raised an eyebrow and decided to watch from afar. Well, the club got once again embarrassed at home not too long into Klinsi’s tenure as HC, and then shit went downhill rapidly fast. As in, he decided to throw in the towel in a Facebook statement, and had the actual NERVE to NOT inform the club beforehand. Like … are you kidding me??? The following weeks were spent with airing some dirty laundry, the squad continuing to suck, and then Corona happened.
And as if that wasn’t enough already, Salomon Kalou decided it was a good idea to go live on Facebook, filming what’s going on in the locker rooms – players not keeping the mandatory social distance, and whining about their paychecks being not as high as they had hoped for. Because, you know, some deductions were being made, and that was when I lost it once and for all. Word on the street is that they were upset that the deduction was higher than originally communicated, but really, guys … y’all earn more in a single month than the average person will in a whole year and you still whine about earning less money than what was agreed on? AMIDST A FUCKING PANDEMIC WHERE PEOPLE LOSE THEIR JOBS OR ARE ON FURLOUGH???
SERIOUSLY??? What about health care workers who don’t really get a pay rise despite risking their lives trying to save others’?
Kalou got subsequently banned from the squad, but I for one wouldn’t be too overly surprised if what he filmed (the not respecting social distancing part) was something that went on in other teams’ locker rooms as well. He simply exposed it.
Meanwhile, several players of various clubs all over the country tested positive for Covid-19, and yet, the league restarted. Because you know, fuck the players’ and staff members’ health. Fuck social distancing on the pitch. Fuck all of this. Because money is what makes the world go round, and even if there were no spectators allowed, there was still some cash to be earned because of broadcasting rights. Seriously? FUCK. OFF.
I didn’t watch a single second of the recaps in the evenings. I also didn’t listen to the radio conferences on match days. I checked the results, and that’s about it. I bloody didn’t care. There were (and still are!) simply more important things than overpaid, privileged millionaires chasing a ball.
So yeah. An era comes to an end.
I bid ye farewell, football. You’ve lost your appeal to me. Maybe the spark will return one day, maybe it won’t. But for the time being, I am done here. It was fun while it lasted. It was a huge part of my life. But I am ready to move on and find something else. (If I haven’t already.)
So long …