A jubilant celebration has swept through the week: Union Berlin has made it into the Bundesliga. A weekly commentary.
Union fans celebrate with the usual soccer celebration paraphernalia, which is otherwise forbidden Photo: dpa
Union in the Red City Hall, Union on the boat, Union stadium party, balcony for Union: a jubilant aria has run through the week, as the Kopenick people are ready for the first league. After the Bundesliga promotion means anyway just a heartbeat before the first Bundesliga game, before the first capital city derby, heck, before the relegation battle.
Union Berlin’s successful PR machine is running, the capital’s press dutifully drowning each other out in loyalty and jubilation. Union sells. At the same time, another Union relegation match is scheduled for Sunday, hardly noticed. The women play against Andernach for promotion to the second Bundesliga; the result in the first leg was 1:1. There, too, they tend to defend and plow, and there are certain parallels to the men, but it’s telling how irrelevant the team remains in the eyes of Berlin’s supposedly progressive public. If it goes after the Unioner club management, the women do not have to ascend at all necessarily. Regional league is enough. Anything else would cost more money, which the likeable cuddly club prefers to spend almost exclusively on the men.
No, Union is truly not solidary and egalitarian in every respect. It hardly has to endure criticism for this. After all, Union is committed, while Hertha is comfortable keeping it the same for women.
So now: the rise of the Union men. In the press, people are pushing for the Ossidruse, but for the East, Union’s rise probably means nothing: it’s not Dresden or Magdeburg that are rising, but a capital city club, at most sentimentally ostig. No depopulated regions benefit, just a few kiosks in Oberschoneweide. The rest is folklore.
Hertha can be pleased that the stadium is once again sold out.
Whether the cash-strapped capital can sustain two professional clubs in the long term remains to be seen. Hertha already lacks the funds to launch its planned major attack in the Bundesliga. Backers from abroad would be a plausible solution, but so far the Charlottenburgers have been looking for their Chinese counterpart in vain. It is therefore conceivable that in the long term there will only be room for a Berlin Bundesliga club, but it has not been said which one. In terms of image and appearance, Union has long since pulled ahead. The competition in the youth sector is intensifying: Hertha has distinguished itself in recent years as a major promoter of young talent and would like to remain so. No, the West German club is certainly not happy about Union’s promotion. But they are happy that they are once again selling out the Olympiastadion. With the capital city derby, it is probably thanks to Union, of all teams, that Hertha has always strived for: more soccer metropolis Berlin. More visible, different fan culture.
But there are downsides. The so-called fringe sports are slipping further into the semi-significant behind the new polarity. The gap to Berlin’s amateur soccer is growing. And the Union women can continue to wait for a time when the parent club can no longer use the phrase "no money" as an excuse. The Union men are a long way from that in the Bundesliga. And money is always needed in men’s soccer.