About 13,000 clippings filled the stands on Saturday as Borussia Mönchengladbach hosted Bayer Leverkusen in a Bundesliga match that could help decide the qualification for the Champions League.
Gladbach fans took photos at home in a shirt or scarf and paid 19 euros ($ 20.70) to become one of the “Pappkameraden” or “cardboard companions”. Subscription holders have their cutouts placed in their usual place, although some fan groups have spoken out against the idea.
“It’s better to play in front of dolls than nothing at all,” said Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz before the game.
It was Gladbach’s first time at home since the start of the Bundesliga without spectators in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The cuts didn’t do much good at Gladbach on Saturday. Leverkusen won 3-1 to overtake Gladbach for third place because Gladbach missed good late scoring opportunities.
“Despite that, he still looks really great,” said Gladbach’s right-back Stefan Lainer. “It creates a certain atmosphere. “
Coach Marco Rose and some of his players were also in the stands in two-dimensional form, alongside the greats of the club’s past. These include Günter Netzer, who won the West German title with Gladbach in 1970 and 1971 and the World Cup in 1974. There is even an end with photos of supporters of Leverkusen and other clubs. Gladbach said it was a non-profit initiative, the proceeds of which were donated to charity.
Gladbach’s form this season echoes his golden age in the 1970s. The club led the table at the start of the season and is still fighting for a place in the Champions League.
Not all real life fans like their cutting counterparts. Some groups oppose the continuation of the season without spectators and believe that the cuts legitimize this.
“Fanless football is nothing,” a large banner at one end of the stadium said on Saturday.
“For Borussia, against ghost games,” reads another.
“The dark backdrop of empty stadiums is exactly what these games represent and deserve,” the Gladbach fan group told Sottocultura in a statement. “We consider the initiative with cardboard figures to be counterproductive. We understand the well-intentioned charitable idea behind it, but we believe that the signal is not the right one. “
Gladbach is not the first club to try to replace fans with lookalikes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the Bundesliga restarted, Belarus was the only country in Europe to play league games. Champion club Dynamo Brest printed photos from overseas supporters and attached them to store mannequins wearing a motley variety of old shirts.
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