It was an emotional Sunday night in Dortmund for all the wrong reasons. A 79-year-old fan passed away on the Yellow Wall, sadly succumbing to a heart attack. Another person had to be resuscitated and taken to the hospital. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the bereaved.
There won’t be a match report on this site for BVB’s match against Mainz, but I want to say thank you to 81.000 football fans who respectfully expressed their grief by staying silent for the entirety of the second half. I don’t think that I’ve ever experienced anything like it.
Before the second half started the Dortmund Ultras explained what had happened over the loudspeakers, which are usually used to lead the chants on the Yellow Wall, and announced that there will be no active support due to the tragedy.
What followed was ghostly silence for the entirety of the second half, which was only distorted by the reactions to the match and some chants from the south-west stand, as the message hadn’t had reached every corner of the stadium.
The atmosphere was reverent, completely oppressive in a football stadium that is usually so vibrant. It was surreal to see how the football down on the field lost its meaning.
Sometimes you have to shout on the Yellow Wall so that the person next to you can understand what you say, but during that second half, you could hear the conversations of the fans around you.
Whoever has ever felt the roar of the Yellow Wall, felt the depressing contrast on Sunday night. Singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” shortly before and after the final whistle were soul-stirring moments and I’m sure a lot of people had tears in their eyes. It was simply moving to see the human side come out in such a powerful way.
But the moment that burned itself into my memory was when stadium announcer Nobby Dickel read out the sad news that was written on the video screens after the match. Although everyone in the ground could sense that something wasn’t right, many fans on the main stands hadn’t had certainty to exactly why the support turned into eerie silence up to this point.
When Nobby Dickel read out the words the whole ground fell into absolute silence. People, who were streaming out, stopped and you could have heard a pin drop on the other side of the stadium. The Westfalenstadion is often referred to as “temple”, and in this instance, it felt like one big church.
Nobby thanked the Mainz fans, who respectfully yielded their support and chimed into the renditions of YNWA. He was stopped in his speech as the Yellow Wall applauded the away fans, which is something you don’t get to see each day. The solidarity and unification illustrated that there are greater things than football, leaving a lasting impression on everyone who was a part of it that night.