This issue, much discussed now, is particularly tragic for SG Sonnenhof Großaspach. The team maneuvered itself toward relegation from Regionalliga Südwest on Saturday – one of the best performances of the season. Großaspach’s ‘Mistake’: Sixteenth Table. He led his team against second-placed Ulm very early and very clearly – after 78 minutes 3-0.
This earned the table 15. FSV Frankfurt and the top of the table SV Elversberg. The two met at the same time at Frankfurt-Bornheim, and when Elversberg fans erupted in celebration of Aspache’s provisional result, the score was 1-1. It was enough for both teams to achieve their goals – Elversberg to promote and Frankfurt to stay in the class. Thus, the constellation led to an agreement not seen for a long time, which, apparently, was achieved in a non-verbal way: Elversberg kept the ball in his ranks, but barely crossed the midfield, and FSV no longer attacked. After the final whistle, which was played without any overtime, both celebrated widely.
Now is that a shame? On social media, many were reminded of the famous game between Germany and Austria in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, “Gijon Shame”. When the score was 1-0, both teams stopped playing football because they both made it to the next round. Then, concurrency was quickly introduced to decision-making games on many levels – which in the case of the regional league constellation from last weekend didn’t help prevent the alleged shame.
Großaspach board member Michael Ferber advised Elversbergers to check if they could still look in the mirror at all.
During and shortly after the match, both teams were clearly unaware of any culpability: FSV tweeted that the ball had been pushed back and forth with fans cheering them on. “I was speechless, I don’t know how the club can still take it to the outside world,” says Michael Ferber, Großaspach’s sporting director, who only found out what happened in Frankfurt through this tweet. Before that, you’d been staring at the tape for minutes hoping something else would happen. Ferber advised the Elversbergers to check if they could still look in the mirror at all. Certainly, I attributed relegation to the second division after a bad season, even professional striker Sasha Mulders from 1860 in Munich, who was hastily signed in the winter, could only contribute five goals. But the events in Frankfurt left Asbach a “stale aftertaste”.
Saarland’s side show their understanding of the anger, but there is already a lot of talk about it: “It’s been our turn for years,” sporting director Nils Ole Bock says of the club’s history. Elversberg has been a top team since relegation from the third division in 2014, they’ve only failed twice in the playoffs, and many players see promotion as the end of martyrdom. Also in this context, Bock speaks of a “tremendous pressure” on the players. And from a ‘brutal special situation’: it was a ‘very competitive match’ for about 80 minutes, but with the fans cheering and the fact that Frankfurt simply weren’t attacking anymore, there was ‘no motive at all and no reason to be so.’ But before the match, Bock says. No one was wasted thinking of such a scenario, after the 3-0 win in Großaspach, there was only an order from the bank not to take any big risks.
In purely mathematical terms, Sonnenhof Großaspach has yet to land. Hans-Jürgen Boysen could still save themselves with an 8-0 win over FC Rot-Weiss Koblenz on the final day of the match. But Ferber does not assume a clear victory: because Koblenz themselves will suffer, great resistance is expected.