Dortmund ask fans to find voice again
Borussia Dortmund have written an open letter to fans urging them to be vocal in their support for the team during Wednesday's DFB-Pokal match against Hannover, a move that has angered many supporters.
Dortmund fans are renowned for being among the most vociferous in German football, but they remained silent during last weekend's away trip to Hoffenheim in protest against the Safe Stadium Experience proposals passed by the German Football League (DFL) and its clubs last week.
However, the reigning Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal champions have asked those attending Wednesday's cup tie at the Westfalenstadion to stop their protests in order to help lift the team in their final match of the year.
The open letter, signed by Dortmund chief executive Aki Watzke, general manager Michael Zorc, boss Jurgen Klopp and skipper Sebastian Kehl, read: "You could not get a leaf between our young team and you fans during 2012.
"All of Europe admired the sense of unity that has grown here - how respectfully we get along, how intense and real the togetherness in our very special football club is.
"We are aware protests will continue. We also know of fans willing to support from minute one. We urge you to not let yourself divide as fans and cause rifts between us and you.
"We beg for your support tomorrow evening. Loud. Unconditional. Patient. Like we know you. If you believe that we deserve your support after this incredible year, then we ask you for only one thing: Don't deny it."
The letter also claimed Dortmund had been in talks with fans over the Safe Stadium Experience paper and that the club had "actively worked towards the fact that fan concern was not only heard but factored in".
Klopp echoed the sentiments of the letter at his pre-match press conference, saying: "Nobody inside the stadium will witness anything like our 2012 for another 20 years. We could need a bit of help. I want the advantage of a home game."
Dortmund supporters had announced that they would continue their silent protest for 12 minutes and 12 seconds at the start, though they insisted normnal service would be resumed after that spell.
Fan website schwatzgelb.de responded to the letter angrily, writing: "How can you be so impertinent? Listen to a fan, who does not feel good when an ignorant teenager like Mr Reus presumes to judge us [attacker Marco Reus claimed the lack of atmosphere at the Hoffenheim game was a 'catastrophe']."
Dortmund is not the only club at which the continuing protests have caused rifts. In Mainz, president Harald Strutz sent out a recommendation to the fans, saying: "We should not be cornered by a minority. It cannot continue like this. Those fans should stay at home."
In Gelsenkirchen, Schalke supporter groups attacked DFL vice-president and Schalke board member Peter Peters, chanting "Peters out", though other fans replied with "Ultras out".