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May 21, 2013

Fans unite as UEFA bans choreography

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund supporters have united in their protests to UEFA and Wembley over regulations preventing fan choreography at the Champions League final.

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Dortmund attracted widespread attention for the display ahead of this season's quarter-final first leg against Malaga at the Westfalenstadion. The full "Yellow Wall" was in action, using coloured cardboard to create an image of the trophy as well as displaying a man with spyglasses.

However, UEFA and Wembley regulations make a recurrence during Saturday's final impossible, with fans unable to pass a banner from the level one seats to the corporate section in level two. As a result, Dortmund fans will not have any choreography at Wembley, while Bayern are planning only a small-scale display.

In Germany, as in Italy, 'choreos' are of the utmost importance to fan groups, with 'ultras' working on them for several weeks, without help or funding from the clubs, to showcase prior to big games.

Dortmund fan group The Unity explained its decision: "We are unbelievably sorry that in this great moment, the highlight for so many, we cannot put forward a 'choreo' and we are frustrated beyond measure that UEFA makes it basically impossible for us to provide the Champions League final with a worthy setting."

The sentiment was shared by Bayern's Club 12 fan group.

"By rational measures we would have called our planned 'choreo' off by now," the Club 12 statement read. "However, a final like this can stop the rational parts of the brain from working, as shown in the ticket prices paid."

It added that the governing body's decision appeared to be motivated by a desire to keep "typical fan behaviour like waving flags and standing up and singing" away from the "UEFA family".

A Yeovil Town supporter hoping to take a banner reading "Little Old Yeovil" to Wembley for Sunday's League One play-off final was told he would have to pay £1,500.

A Football Association spokesman had explained: "The cost is in place for a contractor that we have an existing relationship with.

"They have to bring in a team of eight people to ensure the flag is manoeuvred safely over the heads of fans in the stadium. The cost is to bring in extra man power. It is something we have to do from a stadium point of view to make sure we are looking after the safety of supporters."

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