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Why the Yellow Wall is a mesmerising sight in world football

Borussia Dortmund’s South Stand, famously known as the Yellow Wall, can hold 25,000 standing fans and is a mesmerising stand in the world of football.

football Updated: Apr 29, 2018 11:00 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund,Westfalenstadion,Signal Iduna Park
Borussia Dortmund attract an average of 80,000 fans for every game at Signal Iduna Park.(AFP)

Every matchday, Borussia Dortmund fans follow a ritual. They gather at the city centre, discuss football over beer binging and start walking towards Westfalenstadion, the home stadium.

During the walk -- which takes around half an hour -- the hue of yellow and black, the club’s colours, gets prominent, chorus louder. Club flags unfurled and beer pints still in hand, emotions run high as kick-off approaches. The scene, leading to, and at one of the biggest stadiums in Germany with a capacity of 80,000-plus is electric.

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The city stays with the team through thick and thin. The mood defines what the club means to supporters. The adulation makes Dortmund’s fervent atmosphere the envy of Europe.

Not to forget the South Stand, famously known as the Yellow Wall, which is 328 feet long and 131 feet high, can hold 25,000 standing fans and is a mesmerising sight in the world of football.

Bastian Schweinsteiger summed up the impact. “It’s the Yellow Wall I’m most afraid of,” said the former Bayern Munich captain a few season ago when asked what he was most wary of while facing Dortmund.

While Bayern and Dortmund are one of the most successful clubs in recent times and recognised globally, others too have a deep connect with their fans.

Dortmund’s arch-rivals Schalke, based in Gelsenkirchen, have modelled their players’ tunnel on the lines of a mine as a tribute to the mining industry which once existed in the area.

“It’s one of our endeavours to stay connected to the roots of the city. Also, the players coming in should know the history of the club and city,” said Veltins Arena tour guide Sascha.

The fan-first model has sustained them over the years and the clubs want to keep it going. Among the top European leagues, Bundesliga has the lowest ticket prices between €10-15, average attendance of 41,000-plus and 14 of the 18 clubs generating turnover of over €100 million.

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Carsten Cramer, Chief Marketing Officer of Dortmund, says they have four people at the club who are constantly in touch with supporters’ club, taking feedback.

“Access to the South Stand (Yellow Wall) is €15 per match. We try to keep it cheap and accessible to fans. We try to get people closer to the games as much as possible,” says Cramer.

“I’m part of the train but I’m not the engine,” he adds, explaining that marketing isn’t the forefront at the club.

Indian fans have been able to witness the atmosphere at Bundesliga matches thanks to broadcast partners Star Sports Select.

Last Saturday, the mood at Westfalenstadion was upbeat. Dortmund had beaten Bayern Leverkusen 4-0, which moved them to third in the standings and three points behind arch-rivals Schalke, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Cologne the next day.

The same can’t be said about Cologne, who are on the verge of being relegated. Last season, they finished fifth in the Bundesliga, made it to Europe for the first time in 25 years, and in their Europa League group match against Arsenal in London some 20,000 fans turned up at the Emirates. As a result, the match had to be postponed for an hour.

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The fans supported their team with the same passion on Sunday against Schalke, even though the Billy Goats have a slim chance of holding onto their Bundesliga spot. The 50,000-plus capacity Rhein Energie Stadion was packed to the brim, fans backing them till the final whistle and giving them a warm reception for playing their hearts out.

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 09:24 IST