It started in a few stadiums, but is now sweeping the country. It’s not a trend, it’s a protest against what fans see as unjust. So they don’t support their teams for the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds of each game. Why the symbolism?
The atmosphere around German stadiums is getting thicker every week, or so it seems. After the July safety summit we’ve seen football governing bodies DFB and DFL publish a document called “Sicheres Stadionerlebnis” (Safe Stadium Experience) that is supposed to increase safety in stadia nationwide.
Most of the proposed ‘solutions’ have not be taken kindly by fans, though. Standing room is officially declared to stay, but away allocations may be halved (down from 10 to 5%) with stricter searches upon entrance to the stadium also being under consideration. Such precautions are questioned by some commentators as statistics are rather showing an increase in safety rather than the other way round.
This move by DFB has caused nationwide protests not only by supporters, but also had part of the media and clubs questioning both the ideas and reasoning behind them. Main allegation towards the football governing body is that rules that are to improve fans’ experience were not for a moment discussed with the fans themselves. For this reason a number of football clubs have asked for the brochure to be revised. And so it was, with a new version released in mid-November.
Now clubs are to vote on accepting or rejecting “Sicheres Stadionerlebnis” on December 12. This is where 12:12 number comes from. Fan initiative “Ohne Stimme, Keine Stimmung” (No Voice, No Atmosphere) aims to show, that despite months of works on the document, no-one was interested in listening to supporters. Thus, in every game where fangroups take part, first 12 minutes and 12 seconds go without any organized chanting.
As the protest lasts only 12 minutes into each game, players still get their support and clubs still get their ticket revenues. This form of boycott isn’t directed at them as fans still count on good relations with clubs to be of help when fighting for their goals. Those relations already proved valuable for FC Sankt Pauli who are the first club to declare they will not vote on the issue on December 12. The club stated that there is too little time to carry out necessary fan consultations.
When the 12:12 action started in mid-November, there were just a few groups taking part. Last matchday weekend it was already over a dozen stadiums and this week the total number may reach 50 stadiums staying quiet for over 12 minutes.
Fans launched their offensive through social networks, but also by setting up information kiosks in front of stadiums on matchdays, to keep everyone aware of what the actions are about. But still, the most visible impact is one at games themselves. Take a look at how several stadiums looked before and after the clock hit 12:12:
1. FC Kaiserslautern
MSV Duisburg and Union Berlin (away)