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Soccer in Dusseldorf vs. the Seattle Sounders

11 Mar Posted by in Culture, Sports | Comments
Soccer in Dusseldorf vs. the Seattle Sounders
Ok, so Fortuna Düsseldorf wasn’t playing the Seattle Sounders.

Unfortunately, I have only been to one professional soccer game in the US (Seattle Sounders vs. Chicago Fire) back in April of last year. So this is the only American match to which I can compare the European games I’ve seen.

However, I can proudly claim that I have been to more European matches than US ones.

Last night we went to the Fortuna Düsseldorf Fußball match against Erzgebirge Aue at the Düsseldorf Esprit arena.


This was my fourth European soccer game and once again, a German match did not disappoint.

If you’re looking for the glitz and glam of being at a sporting event, a US soccer game will give you such.

The Drum Line.


The fan section with flags and scarves. (I want to know if the same person waves these huge flags the whole time or if they take turns?)


Opening ceremony featuring US military.


The players walk onto the field with a group of children.


Beginning huddle.


When at a European game, they have some similar rituals.

The procession onto the field with children.


Tons of flags and scarves. (I also want to know how these chanters and flag wavers are able to actually watch the game while cheering?)


But the overall feel at the stadium was different and the way in which everything was organized was vastly different.

Keeping in mind that all stadiums around the world are going to be different, here are some things that I find to be mostly true at the four soccer matches I have attended in and around Germany.

Parking – Not all stadiums that we’ve gone to are perfect for getting in and out, but I will say Esprit stadium is pretty darn close to perfect. We were out of our spot and onto the motorway in just about 7 minutes.

There were 30,237 people in attendance at last night’s game. Ok, there were a lot of people who took public transportation.

But when we arrived, the cars were directed to pull in one after another… no turning the wheel or backing in, just driving straight and leaving the center lane free for exiting.


Parking & Ticket Prices – The parking price was 3,50€, which is just under five US dollars. And the tickets themselves were 22€, which is just under 30 US dollars. Much cheaper than attending any professional sporting event in the US.

Entrances – Everyone is patted down prior to entering the stadium and also entrances are split by fan base (for safety reasons, I’m sure).

When I was in Belgium for the game against the US national team, we got turned away because we had gone to the wrong entrance (the Belgian fan’s entrance) and had to walk in the rain, with a baby, to the proper side.

At yesterday’s game, we entered correctly, but then still ended up having to walk all the way around the stadium to our seats.

Seating Assignments – European stadiums have different fan sections, so pay attention when purchasing. It is possible to buy tickets in any section, but for the hardcore fans who wish to cheer and chant, they should stick to their team’s seating assignments.

This is only one of the home team’s sections, but you get the idea.


Since the opposing team’s city isn’t so close to Düsseldorf (550 km/over 340 miles away), there weren’t a lot of fans in attendance, but the purple people in the back were rooting for Erzgebirge Aue.


Sometimes stadiums will have designated family sections. We aren’t sure if you can buy and/or drink beer in these sections, but you definitely are not allowed to smoke. Whereas everywhere else in the stadium, expect to see and smell plenty of smoke. Very annoying to this American as the couple next to us was chain smoking.

Food & Drink Prices – Food prices at the stadium are just as expensive as in the US. I saw a sign for “Hot Dogs – 3€” (just under $4). But beer was only 4,80€ ($7), in a larger cup than in the US and purchase price also included the deposit on the cup. (If you want 1€ per cup back, you have to return it. One way of ensuring the stadium has less litter at the end, I guess.)

Near the entrances to the hardcore fans’ seating areas, there were vendors standing in the middle of the walkway with what looked like Ghostbusters packs on their backs. They were holding large plastic cups and then would squirt beer into the cup once ordered.

Unlike most American sporting events, you won’t get a halftime show though. However, the game itself proved to be entertaining enough with seven yellow cards and one red card.

After the red card was given to the opposing team, one fan seemed to be a little too peeved and had lit a firecracker that sent off three loud booms. This seemed to scare our daughter, until I turned, saw the large puff of smoke and started laughing. The serious look on her face then dissipated.

No more than three minutes later and the overzealous fan was escorted out of the stadium by 5 police officers wearing helmets, 3 in berets, and 5 security people. They don’t mess around. And neither does Fortuna Düsseldorf with a final score of 3:1.

After the game, the players greeted the fans and I noticed that nobody was really in a rush to leave.


The players walked around the entire field and then briefly made a cheering chant over the microphone that required audience participation chanting back.

As we were walking back to the car, Kay said, “Oh, it’s the Hill of Shame.”

Me: Huh?


Upon closer inspection, I saw there were about eight or nine men peeing on the hill. I then discretely tried to get a pic. For blog purposes, of course.

For the diehard Soccer/Sports fans, continue reading. For anyone who is already bored, catch you around the next blog entry.

Kay is always trying to educate me regarding the German Fußball Bundesliga. Most times I pretty much tune him out because either the topic is too boring or he takes too long trying to explain. Tonight, however, I tried my darndest to listen… for research purposes, of course.

Apparently, the biggest difference between German soccer and American soccer (besides calling it soccer vs. fußball) is that the German league is made up of “clubs.” It took me about two minutes for Kay to understand my question of, “So what the h@ll does that mean?”

What he meant was that each team/club is self-owned; there isn’t an owner or corporation profiting from the team. The team is profiting. They earn money that goes directly back into the club. Perhaps this explains why ticket prices aren’t outrageous?

There are three nationwide leagues/levels within Germany and there are 18 teams within each league. Below the nationwide leagues, it is regionally organized. There are apparently around 26,000 soccer clubs in Germany with about 6.8 million members.

I had a brief argument with Kay about what it actually means to be a “member.” Apparently this is just counting the people that are part of the club but not actually playing soccer. So he said that there are about 3.5 million active players, but this also includes the youth levels.

Within the three nationwide leagues, the number one league includes the top teams. At the end of the season, the bottom two teams move down a league. And the top two teams move up. Told you this was boring.

To make it all even more boring…I mean exciting… The third to last team in league one, for instance, and the third best team in league two play to see who gets to stay or move up to league one.

And this is why I don’t normally listen. I’d rather watch the game than listen to how in which it is organized.

Let’s move to something more entertaining. A brief clip from last night’s game shows you the crowd’s enthusiasm. Yeah for screaming and chanting!


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