RIVALRY BETWEEN European football fans can be fierce and often break into ugly scenes of violence between supporters of the top clubs.
But in the wake of last week’s bomb attack against the Borussia Dortmund’s team bus, which left one of their players, Spanish defender, Marc Bartra injured, the solidarity shown between fans of Dortmund and their opponents Monaco was remarkable.
The bus was on the way to the home side’s stadium, taking the players to their European Champion’s league quarter final tie against Monaco, when the explosions occurred.
The match was postponed until the following day as a result, leaving fans who had travelled for the game at a loose end and some with nowhere to stay.
As a gesture of solidarity, Monaco fans began chanting “Dortmund” from the stands of the German Westfalenstadion, where the match had been due to take place.
The home fans then went on to extend kindness to the visitors in return.
Using the hashtags #bedforawayfans and #tableforawayfans, local supporters offered Monaco fans dinner and somewhere to stay.
Can offer 2 places to sleep in Recklinghausen, 20 minutes away from Dortmund-Can pick up with car if needed #bedforawayfans was one of the tweets
Another one read, #bedforawayfans We have space for 2-3 people in #Castrop-Rauxel. 20 min by car from stadium. We speak German, English & Persian.
Many posted pictures of their gatherings on social media and tweeted their gratitude. Thank you for this kindness and this wonderful experience #You’llNeverWalkAlone, read one tweet.
The rescheduled match was played 24 hours later after Tuesday night’s postponement, and a sell-out crowd of 65,849 was characteristically loud and proud when the tie belatedly got under way amid heightened security.
As stadium announcer and former player Norbert Dickel said the club was going “through the most difficult situation we’ve experienced in decades” and led the crowd to chant the name of Marc Bartra, absent from the starting lineup after sustaining a hand injury in the attack.
It took one of Dortmund’s famed fan choreographies for the yellow wall of the 24,000 capacity home supporters stand, to regain its fierce composure of old.
After draping the entire terrace, the largest all standing terrace in Europe, in a yellow and black sheath, the home support re-merged with warpaint on its face: coloured plastic ponchos recreating the club’s BVB crest – short for Ballsportverein Borussia – in gigantic letters.
Once the match got underway it was the French side who took the spoils on the night. Teenager Kylian Mbappe scored twice and despite a spirited Dortmund comeback, Monaco survived to win 3-2 and will take a slender advantage into a highly anticipated second leg at Stade Louis II on 19 April.
For many of the French and German fans inside the stadium, such as Monaco supporter Olivier Pourcel, the match’s emotional significance had already transcended its score at that point. “After what happened last night, the fans of our two teams will have a close relationship for years to come”, he said to the German press.
Investigations are continuing into the explosions, which left Bartra needing surgery on injuries to his wrist and arm.
Several German news outlets have reported a note found after the incident uses radical Islamic rhetoric – but that police are not sure whether the note is genuine or an attempt to throw them off the track.
Meanwhile others reported that investigators were probing statements found on the web that indicated a left-wing motive to punish the club for allegedly not opposing racism strongly enough.