Not only do Germans love watching and playing their Fußball (soccer), but they love supporting their favorite team by becoming an official club member. Requirements for entry vary from team to team, but few have ever gone to the extremes that Eintracht Frankfurt is supporting by choosing to ban anyone that supports or votes for the AfD (Alternative for Germany) far-right political party that has seen a growing rise in power.
Eintracht Frankfurt president Peter Fischer first expressed his desire for the ban in late-December, telling the local Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung that “If you choose AfD, you can not be a member of harmony,” and his club should be “distinguished by its diversity.”
One would expect such a harsh statement to be the cause for division from within, but members met on Sunday for club elections and overwhelmingly supported Fischer for reelection with 99-percent of the vote. In an address made to the 654 voting members present on Sunday, Fischer made it clear that he would not be backing down from his no-entry stance towards AfD supporters, to which the room erupted in loud applause.
“We have members of all kinds. It is this diversity and internationality that makes the Eintracht,” Fischer said in his speech on Sunday. “Sport in our club is not unpolitical. The club is politically neutral, but this only goes for political parties which have values that are compatible with ours. This is not the case for the AfD.”
Hamburger SV has also decided to look into banning AfD supporters after Fischer made his push with Eintracht Frankfurt, but for Fischer this solo support is not enough. It is his hope that Eintracht Frankfurt can help kickoff a movement that spreads to other teams. “What I’m saying isn’t some crazy opinion. I’m saying this: these are our values, they are there to read in our club rules. There are thousands of clubs that have the same rules,” Fischer said in his push to get other clubs on board. “Where are the others? Who is going to take a stand?”