Long way through institutions: Hertha boss Bernstein will not torch football

Some old men worry about the future of football: Kay Bernstein is the new president of Hertha BSC.

Long way through institutions: Hertha boss Bernstein will not torch football

Some old men worry about the future of football: Kay Bernstein is the new president of Hertha BSC. Chaos days loom. Law and order are traded for pyros and violence. It is not so. Rather, the path of the ultras is comparable to that of a current governing party.

Fear is rampant on the boulevard. Football is in danger! Wild ultra hordes take power in clubs, set fire to Bundesliga stadiums and hatch insidious plans against class enemies TSG Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig. In the future it will hardly be possible to go to the stadium with your family without fearing for your life. The threat comes from Berlin. Naturally. The chaos club from the west end threatens the favorite game of the Germans. At least that's how the "Bild" and the "BZ" see it.

The Bundesliga club Hertha BSC has been led by a president since yesterday who was even banned from the stadium. What a shock for the reactionary forces. In the management floors of the clubs, these forces otherwise only knew people who had made the headlines because of other crimes.

Now a 41-year-old who has only been insufficiently introduced as an ex-ultra and who wants to unite the club, which has been falling into its individual parts since 2019. Will Kay Bernstein, the Hertha fan from the curve, the co-founder of the Ultra group Harlekins '98 and today's entrepreneur, succeed? Time will tell. He actually enters a new world completely clueless and will have to learn to deal with the vanities of the industry.

Bernstein will also have to position himself and not allow himself to be reduced to the image of the "pyro-president" that prevails on the tabloids. He's not just president of organized fans. He will also work with board member Fredi Bobic and will have to cooperate with investor Lars Windhorst. Facts he should know. Facts that he has repeatedly pointed out and which Windhorst does not want to avoid either. His relationship with the old Presidium no longer existed anyway. A newbeginning.

Far away from the cleanliness requirement of clubs like RB Leipzig or TSG Hoffenheim, there has been a change in football in recent years. The arrival of Kay Bernstein at the top of Hertha is a completely normal development, perhaps comparable to the path of the Greens to government responsibility. The organized fans have long recognized that, as APO, they are heard with their protests in the stadium, but are always dismissed as violent criminals. They looked for new ways to have a say in the future of the game.

They realized that you can challenge the old establishment of football and change the game and clubs from within. Bernstein already organized the fan congress in Berlin in 2012. Representatives of all fan scenes in the country, but also Hanover President Martin Kind, representatives of Sky and DFB were there to discuss the future of German football from the fans' perspective.

"Fan representatives in the committees" was one of the slogans in the fan scenes for a long time. They are long gone. Bernstein is President of Hertha BSC, at Borussia Dortmund the former fan activist and Ultra Jan-Henrik Gruszecki has been pushing changes as an operational force for some time. His word carries weight around the Westfalenstadion. They are the pioneers of a new generation that wants to be patient and persevere. "It's a heavy burden to be the first to step out of the Ultra generation and walk this path," Bernstein said on Sunday.

A long process lies ahead of them, which cannot be compared to the protests in the stands and in the corners, but which can be more sustainable in the long term. It will also lead to moments where the former fan reps will have to face up to their past.

Above the unrest that has now broken out on the boulevard is the question of where German football wants to go? It's about the big questions. Is 50 1 negotiable or not? Will the game be primarily for a television audience or for a stadium audience? Can the game free itself from the ever-accelerating escalation spiral of greed for more money and more power for the game's already powerful decision-makers? Does it even want that? The answers of the fan representatives now marching through the institutions will not always be satisfactory either, they too will change over time. They, too, will eventually have to disappoint their followers.

It is certainly just a coincidence that Bernstein's election falls in the 2022 World Cup year. A tournament where everything that is almost despicable about football manifests itself. The elites have sold the game, the fans are working to reclaim a piece. That doesn't just happen in Berlin and Dortmund, but also at Schalke. There the followers played a decisive role in the overthrow of the patriarch Clemens Tönnies. You will be heard. A first step.

The step taken by Bernstein and the Hertha members is just one of the changes. It's not one that will change football overnight and has to inspire fear. Rather, it's a sign that the fans haven't given up on the game. They love the game so much that they want to take responsibility. This is primarily good news.

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