The Silent Night in Dortmund: 'All fans were unified'

By Mike Woitalla

Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus said afterward he and his teammates were puzzled and a bit irritated that the Westfalenstadion had gone so quiet during Dortmund’s 2-0 win over Mainz on Sunday.

“We players had no idea what happened,” said Reus.

After all, Dortmund players, whether they’re winning or losing, are accustomed to arguably the most fervid support in the world in their 81,000-capacity stadium. Legend has it the fans in the steep south-end stand – the Yellow Wall -- can will the ball into the net for their team.

“Right after the game, the coach came to us and explained what happened,” said Reus. “That, of course, puts the game in the background. We compliment the fans for how they reacted.”

What happened was this: Two fans suffered heart attacks, including a 79-year-old who died. A 55-year-old was resuscitated and taken to the hospital.

Stefan Buczko, the editor-in-chief and co-host of the Yellow Wall Pod, described the scene in which the fan leaders, the “capos,” used their megaphones to spread the word of the supporter's death:

“What followed was ghostly silence for the entirety of the second half, which was only distorted by the reactions to the match and some chants from the southwest stand, as the message hadn’t had reached every corner of the stadium.

“The atmosphere was reverent, completely oppressive in a football stadium that is usually so vibrant. It was surreal to see how the football down on the field lost its meaning.

“Sometimes you have to shout on the Yellow Wall so that the person next to you can understand what you say, but during that second half, you could hear the conversations of the fans around you.”

Fans stopped waving their flags and pulled down their banners.

Dortmund defender Mats Hummels  said: “We were of course surprised, because we didn't know what had happened. We had no information, so we still had to do our jobs. We then had a quick chat amongst ourselves on the field and presumed that something serious had occurred. Obviously, the atmosphere was far from normal.

“It was really strange. Then after the game we were told straight away what had gone on. It was an excellent reaction from the crowd.”

Even the Mainz fans stopped cheering on their team -- and they joined in the renditions of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” shortly before and after the final whistle, when players from both teams gathered before the fans.

Buczko reported that the Dortmund fans, after PA announcer Nobby Dickel thanked the Mainz fans, applauded them.

“That 80,000 fans could go silent within in a few minutes and I found amazingly remarkable,” said Mainz coach Martin Schmidt. “The only ones who battled against each other were the 22 on the field. All others were unified.”

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