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Borussia Dortmund's match with FC Koln was disrupted on Saturday 20 January when supporters from both clubs threw chocolate coins onto the pitch in the first half. The joint protest from both clubs saw the match halted for eight minutes but what was the reason for it and will there be future protests?
The reason for the Chocolate Coin protest was all to do with the German football's proposal to sell off a portion of TV and marketing rights to outside investors. Recently, 24 clubs in Germany's top two divisions voted in favour of selling 8% of TV and marketing rights which has sparked fury among supporters across the country.
For several years, German football fans have been passionate in their beliefs about football being a game for working-class fans rather than billionaires and fans of Koln and Borussia Dortmund made their feelings known about the new TV and marketing proposal at the weekend.
Throughout the opening stages of the match, they took part in joint charting while banners slamming the proposal were unfurled at both ends of the stadium. Then, in the 12th minute (to symbolise the notion that supporters are the 12th man in football matches) chocolate gold coins came reigning down from all angles which brought the match to a halt.
For eight minutes, the players on the pitch helped stewards clear the pitch which allowed the match to restart. While no more coins came down on to the pitch afterwards, the chanting rarely stopped for the entirety of the match despite Borussia Dortmund winning 4-0 on away turf.
Not the first protest and likely not the last
As things stand, the two leagues are still set to try and push the deal through. It is potentially worth around £860 million for German football and negotiations with various firms, including Blackstone and CVC, are ongoing in the background. It is expected that a final decision will be made by March 2024 which gives German fans two more months to make their feelings clear on the issue.
Saturday's demonstration in Cologne wasn't the first as match-going fans have been united on the issue. During Bochum's 3-0 win over Union Berling in December, it was tennis balls rather than chocolate coins that found their way onto the pitch while Stuttgart supporters caused a 40-minute delay in their match on Saturday after blocking fire exits with flags.
Prior to the initial vote, supporters of Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach all protested heavily and more supporters are expected to join the cause in the coming weeks to put the pressure on officials to scrap the plans.
Is history repeating itself?
If supporters get their wish, then it wouldn't be the first time that they have had success on this issue. Back in May 2023, German football authorities wanted to sell 12.5% of TV and marketing rights but protests helped to shelve the idea.
Speaking at the time, the supervisory board chairman of the German Football League, Hans-Joachim Watzke said: “Sometimes, things are simple in life. That's democracy. We had a majority but not the majority we wanted. So that's the end of the issue.”