Weser Stadion, Bremen, January 2023

Photo: Leah Monsees

It is early afternoon and most of the people walking to the Weser Stadion on this sunny Saturday are in a good mood. Most of them are drinking. After all, it’s Saturday – AND football. The vendors on the way to the stadium are selling beer for 2€. Not cheap, but a good deal in Germany. A perfect way to stay hydrated.

One last run to the beer stand. The game begins.

We’re sitting in the perfect spot. Expensive tickets, yes. But when do you ever go watch a game? I traveled all weekend from Sweden to spend this day with my sick father. A belated birthday present. He is excited.

The stadium is sold out. 41,000 people. Mostly men. A few women. A couple of kids.

The opponent misses a shot. A man in his 50s, sitting right behind us with a bunch of friends, yells ‘he can’t play for shit – and he’s black on top of that’. Everyone around him laughs. One of them leaves to get more beer.

The man next to my father keeps spilling his liquid gold on the woman sitting in front of him whenever he gets excited. He gets excited a lot. She laughs it off a couple of times but after the third time, you can see she is getting annoyed. She doesn’t complain. This is football. People get drunk. It’s always been like that.

A younger guy, clearly intoxicated and sitting a few rows further down, waves his beer around trying to get the attention of someone on the other side of the block. No one acknowledges him. Strangers all around him yell at him to ‘shut the fuck up and sit down’. He is in his own world.

The referee decides in favour of the opponent. According to the group behind us, he is a ‘homo’. And he needs to hear it. In fact, everyone should hear it. They keep screaming the word over and over again. No one says anything. A little boy is sitting next to us just a couple of seats to the left. A few minutes later, someone else, sitting a couple of rows in front of us, reminds the referee one more time, that homosexuality and football don’t go together.

The black player misses a simple pass. He is maybe 50m away from us and the man sitting right behind me feels the need to scream ‘nigga’. Not once. Twice. The old man, probably 90 years old, next to me laughs – ‘nigga’, he repeats and giggles into his Werder scarf.

An announcement asks people not to smoke during the game. One of the men behind us calls the announcer a ‘stupid cunt’ and lights up his cigarette. Tough guy. His friend leaves to fetch more beer.

The game is over. Werder Bremen wins after four consecutive losses. ‘I can’t wait for the next home match’, one of the men says. ‘Let’s go celebrate! The next round is on me’.

On Monday, they will return to their boring jobs where they must behave. No ‘niggas, homos and cunts’. At least football doesn’t judge them. Football is still football. Football has their backs.

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Leah is a second year PhD student at the Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University. Her dissertation project is about the concept of "talent" and what it really means when we use a word that seems to have thousands of definitions. Raised in northern Germany and after two exciting sabbatical years in Amsterdam, Leah decided to move to Sweden in 2014 to study peace and conflict science at Malmö University. She obtained her bachelor's degree in 2017 and then began a master's degree in gender studies at Lund University, which she completed in 2019. She has also lived and studied in South Korea and Australia.


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