Berlin, Germany: They say football is a money game now. That it's all about the green, and we are not talking about the turf. Hefty wages, bank-breaking transfer deals, and jaw-dropping broadcast rights are the norms of the day.
But then the world isn't completely devoid of that spirit of the beautiful game that people fell for originally. There are still stories that don't need any cash to sell. Leicester City's dream of a season in the Premier League is a testament to that. And what makes football the most watched and loved sport in the world is its connection with its fans. If Leicester City win the title, their fans would've have lived a life in a season. It's that same vein that runs through teams and their loyal supporters.
But what when the powers high up, the ones who are in it for the money, threaten to cut that cord? What if the men in suits, in their lust for more profits, treat the relationship of a club with its fans as that of a product and its consumers? You've got to pay to watch your team play, of course. Nothing is free. But what if, to feed the greed of few, you've got to pay a lot.
In the past week, football fans have come out in the open and and protested exorbitant ticket prices in their own unique ways. Be it Liverpool fans staging a walkout or Borussia Dortmund fans resorting to a whole different ballgame, the message is one and the same. Stop ripping us off.
Dortmund fans called 'foul' on away ticket prices for their team's German Cup quarter-final at Stuttgart on Tuesday night by hurling dozens of yellow and red balls onto the pitch.
Dortmund fans took exception after Stuttgart raised ticket prices at the Mercedes Benz Arena for the game as Borussia booked their place in the last four with a 3-1 win over their hosts.
After boycotting the first 20 rows of the away section, Dortmund fans then threw the brightly-coloured balls onto the pitch midway through the first-half which Borussia players, led by captain Mats Hummels, had to pick up as the game was briefly halted.
"Football must be affordable!" read one banner in the away section as the cheapest ticket for Tuesday's match was 38.50 euros, plus booking fee, while the most expensive were more than 70 euros.
"We wanted to try and put a good face on the matter, but at the same time show that it was not on," said Marc Quambusch, the initiative's spokesman.
The fans carried out the protest with Dortmund's blessing.
"It's the case that VfB Stuttgart raised the prices for tickets by 25 percent, with prices around 70 euros," said Dortmund's press officer Sascha Fligge in the pre-match press conference.
"The fans are very critical of this and we support them."
Stuttgart said they had put prices up for away fans after Dortmund had done exactly the same thing for a Bundesliga match between the clubs at Borussia's Signal Iduna Stadium.
Ticket prices are an issue in England's Premier League after 10,000 fans walked out of Liverpool's 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland last Saturday over the £77 ($112, 99 euros) it will cost for the most expensive match ticket at Anfield next season.
Prices remain reasonable in Germany's top flight where tickets range from 16.70 to 78.20 euros for a home Bundesliga match at Borussia Dortmund, while Bayern Munich charge from 15 up to 70 euros for home league games.
With AFP inputs