Monday, May 17, 2010

FC St Pauli the Football Club

FC St Pauli the Football Club beloved of radicals everywhere is 100 years old this month. As part of the celebrations a collection of former players and other “St Pauli All Stars” will be playing a friendly match against FC United of Manchester, The Red Rebels, and Republican’s favourites Celtic. A St Pauli statement said: “This game will be the highlight of the unique friendship between the sides.

Photo courtesy of Max Reeves
Photo courtesy of Max Reeves

Although the centenary happily coincides with their elevation to the 1st Bundesliga, the club is more know for the quality of it’s supporters than the quality of its football, widely recognized for its unique culture. It is the quintessential ‘Kult’ team and has support that spans continents.

Located in Hamburg’s traditionally working class dock area and close to the night life of the reeperbahn, the Millentor stadium would attract a few hundred or so supporters as befitting a lower division team. Then everything changed.

During the 1980s an alternative squatting scene emerged in the area, notable for its radical political nature and consequent battles with the police. They also adopted St Pauli as their club and soon the ranks of the handful of Dockers, prostitutes and other faithful were swelled with Anarchists, Punks, Bikers, anti-fascists and other politicized groups from the scene. Not only did they embrace the club but went about changing it and in a stroke of branding genius adopted the now iconic Skull and Crossbones as their logo. A game became an event. A Party.

A unique aura surrounds St Pauli…the games themselves have more of a party feel than a sporting event. As the team enters the field ACDC’s Hell’s bells blares through the PA. The famous singing stand erupts. A home goal is celebrated with a few “woo-hoos” to the sound of Blur’s Song 2! Indeed many bands are keen to associate themselves with the Club including Turbonegro, Sisters of Mercy, Bad Religion and London’s Asian Dub Foundation. The club can boast some 20 million “sympathisers” in Germany and about 200 registered fan clubs, many of them outside Germany. St. Pauli have close links with many other foreign clubs, enjoying a particularly close friendship with Celtic.

But it is the political aspects of the ‘Pirates of the League’ that impress most. In an era of football hooliganism used by fascists for recruiting and galvanizing, St Pauli became the first German team to ban right wing activity and presence in its stadium. The Club is staunchly progressive in anti-fascism, anti-racism anti-homophobia and anti-sexism. The club president Corny Littmann, long active in German theatre and head of the Schmidt Theatre on the Reeperbahn, is openly gay. It has the most female supporters in Germany and famously banned a chauvinistic advert from Maxim magazine in the Millentor. This approach on occasion leads to violent confrontations against clubs with right wing ultra support, notably Hansa Rostock and Hamburg SV (who have a ‘special relationship’ with Glasgow Rangers.)

The fans have always been central to the nature of the club. Having a say in such things as the stripe (camouflage one year), the official team photos (such as in front of Hamburg’s Main Prison) and having a direct relationship with the players.

But as the club celebrates the coming year in the top flight things are changing in St Pauli. The once forsaken area is undergoing gentrification (well captured in the film Empire St Pauli as Capital colonises and sterilised the culture. The Millentor itself is currently undergoing a total renovation (expanded seating, new amenities, etc), expected to be completed in 2013 and cost around 30 million euros.

Will St Pauli, always struggling for cash (bailed out in the past by donations from donations from the chairman’s theatreworld connections, charity friendlies with major clubs and T-Shirt appeals) be able to retain their integrity in the face of encroaching Capitalism? Club legend Holger Stanislawski, who has been a player, sports director vice-president and is now their coach, has told German newspapers…”St Pauli can’t afford to be a social utopia anymore.”

So if its ‘social utopian’ urge is neutered then what will be left of this unique and noble phenomenon? Certainly not it’s football.

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Solidarity Poster for Polykarpos Georgiadis and Vaggelis Chrisohoidis (greece)

did anyone speak of a
“…A handful of capitalists
have organized a criminal gang
and have kidnapped the proletarians,
demanding for ransom
their labor force,
merchandising their human activity,
their time (which is turned into money),
their own being itself…”
to vaggelis Chrisohoidis and Polykarpos Georgiadis
who the persecuting authorities, exactly because they denied to betray values and people,
accuse them as participators in the kidnapping of industrialist Milonas
anarchists from Serres from north-greece

Anarchists solidarity protest outside Korydallos prison, the main prison in Athens, at the time of the change of the year. This protest happens every New Year's Eve for the past six years. This year more than 400 people took part in the protest that interacted with the prisoners inside through shouting mutual slogans and fireworks. The main slogan was "The passion for freedom is stronger that your prisons".
Watch live streaming video from agitprop at

A society that punishes/the condition of incarceration/the prison of the mind/the prison as punishment/the rage of the damned will sound on the ruins of prisons/those denying obedience and misery of our era even within its hellholes/will dance together on the ruins of every last prison/with the flame of rebellion avenging whatever creates prisons.

To the prisoners struggle already counting one dead and thousands in hunger strike across greece, we stand in solidarity and anger until the destruction of every last prison.



Keny Arkana - La Rage English Subtitles

1976 - 2000 Greek Anarchists Fight for Freedom

(December Riots in Greece)