Union Berlin supporters held aloft pictures of loved ones who had passed away on their Bundesliga debut, increasing the official attendance figure by 455. - © 2019 Getty Images
Union Berlin supporters held aloft pictures of loved ones who had passed away on their Bundesliga debut, increasing the official attendance figure by 455. - © 2019 Getty Images
bundesliga

Union Berlin count 455 extra fans in attendance against RB Leipzig in touching tribute to deceased supporters

Union Berlin's debut Bundesliga match may not have ended with the desired outcome on Sunday, but the occasion will nevertheless be remembered fondly by the club's supporters following a touching tribute made to fans that have passed away.  

The capacity at Union's Stadion An der Försterei is listed as 22,012 but the official attendance for their game against RB Leipzig – which ended in a 4-0 defeat - was given as 22,467. So how come there were 455 extra people there?

Far from contravening security measures, it was instead part of an initiative called "Endlich dabei" (Finally There), organised by Union fan groups Alt-Unionern, together with fan club Eisern V.I.R.U.S. and the Eisernen Botschaftern, following the team's promotion in May – the first time they had ever reached the promised land of the Bundesliga.

As the club's anthem rang out prior to kick-off, fans lifted up 455 banners displaying the faces of supporters who had hoped to one day see their side in the top flight, but had passed away before getting the chance to do so. Fans also paid the price of a ticket for the game – and Union counted their presence in the official attendance.

By holding aloft their pictures, which were 70x70 centimetres in size and accompanied by the caption "Endlich dabei", the home crowd fulfilled the wishes of their loved ones.

"My son had this picture made up," one tearful fan told Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, showing a picture of her late husband. "My son lives in Rostock but is coming to Berlin for the game. I'm just picking it up for him, but it means everything to our whole family."