February 17, 2024

Bundesliga 2 match interrupted as remote controlled cars equipped with flares storm pitch | Football | Sport


A match in Germany’s second tier was briefly interrupted after the pitch was stormed by two remote-controlled cars equipped with blue and white flares. The game was halted after just 10 minutes of the first half due to the incident, which was the latest in a string of protests against a controversial new development in German football.

Remote-controlled toy cars equipped with pyrotechnics were driven onto the pitch, leaving referee Felix Zyawer with little choice but to pause the game. A member of security was seen attempting to kick the cars off the playing surface, but they simply drove around him.

Tennis balls were also thrown from the stands during the protest before the cars were cleared, allowing the match to continue. Hamburg, who are chasing promotion back to the Bundesliga, opened the scoring in the first half before Rostock came from behind to lead in the closing stages but a late leveller ensured the spoils were shared.

Fans across Germany have been protesting against the country’s football league, the DFL, over plans for the entry of an investor following a vote among the 36 clubs in the top two divisions. The two-thirds majority for the vote to pass was achieved in December but the controversial plans have sparked widespread opposition from supporters.

The DFL intend to create a sister company to manage and sell the league’s domestic and international broadcast rights, with funding from a private equity investor. This measure is widely seen as an attempt from German football to keep up with the financial dominance of the Premier League, which recently sold broadcast rights for the next four years in a deal worth around £6.7billion.

However, supporters of many German clubs have reacted furiously to the plans, which they see as the latest development in the over-commercialisation of the game. Another protest involving toy cars and tennis balls took place on Friday during the Bundesliga match between Koln and Werder Bremen.

Hamburg’s game against Hannover last week was delayed after supporters attached padlocks to goalposts, while in December, fans of Union Berlin threw chocolate coins onto the pitch during their away defeat to Bochum.

The DFL have insisted they are looking to boost their business model and international marketing, with the investor having no say in sporting matters.

In a statement, they said: “The DFL and the 36 clubs have the common goal of ensuring that the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga remain attractive and competitive leagues, with financially stable clubs under the framework of 50+1 and other positive features of German professional football.

“The strategic marketing partnership enables necessary investments in long-term development in order to strengthen the so-called central marketing of the two leagues. Sustainable investments should be made in the media product, digitalisation and internationalisation.

“The strategic partner will not be able to decide on kick-off times, venues, league composition or other sporting issues at any time.”

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