Saturday 21 October 2017, 04:54

Dortmund's #BedForAwayFans bigger than football

  • Dortmund nominated for FIFA Fan Award for second consecutive year

  • Many BVB fans gave lodging to away supporters from Monaco when the match was postponed at short notice

  • #BedForAwayFans used to spread word

There must be something special about the fans of Borussia Dortmund. Last year they received the first ever FIFA-Fan Prize along with Liverpool’s supporters, after the two sets of fans sang the home club’s anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" in memory of those who had lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy, before the start of their UEFA Europa League match in Liverpool.

And now just one year later, the Dortmund fans are once again among the nominees for the FIFA Fan Award – this time on their own, and in quite exceptional circumstances. Last April, an attack was carried out in Dortmund on the home team’s coach before the UEFA Champions League quarter-final between BVB and Monaco. The tie had to be postponed at short notice until the following evening, but many fans from the principality did not have an extra night’s hotel booking. Never fear: the home supporters took it upon themselves to open up their homes and apartments to the away fans for them to stay the extra night.

"There was no official request or organisation behind it, it was just an idea that sprang up among fan groups, and then was spread all over social media using the hashtag #BedForAwayFans and it ended up reaching far and wide," recalls Thorsten Schild, the chairman of the BVB fan group who was on stage in 2016 at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ to receive the prize along with Liverpool’s Susan Black. "The offers of beds for the night came not only from the city of Dortmund but from places as far as 100 kilometres away. That shows the character of the people in the Ruhr area. Many a fan enjoyed a wonderful evening’s company and made new friends - and that’s what football’s all about."

When the match finally got under way the following day (with Monaco winning 3-2), the action on the pitch was almost secondary. "I personally got the impression that not many of the Monaco fans had gone back home before the tie. The atmosphere at the match was incredibly friendly and peaceful. Something really came together," adds Schild, who believes that this display was "perhaps even bigger" than singing with the Liverpool fans the year before, adding: "At the return leg, we had a top-notch thank-you fan banner from Monaco."

For the second year in a row, Schild is looking forward to attending the Best FIFA Football Awards, but once again, it is not primarily about winning an award, but rather making new contacts and enjoying a few hours of fun with new friends – just like the BVB and Monaco fans last April. "The other nominees deserve the Fan Prize every bit as much as we do, so it doesn’t really matter who wins."

What makes the BVB fans so unique according to Schild

  • "They live for the club and wear their BVB shirt to work in the morning"

  • "Borussia outshines everything else in the city and the surrounding area"

  • "It’s a long-standing tradition"

  • "It’s different from Munich or Hamburg where there are plenty of other things to do – here it’s all about football"

  • "The people need something to live for"

  • "Being spontaneous and creative, and always surprising people with our high-quality fan choreographies**”