World Soccer views and news
No fans, no fun at empty Frankfurt stadium
It just feels wrong.
I’m watching a Euro 2008 qualifier between Turkey and Norway in a virtually empty stadium.
In Frankfurt, Germany.
Turkey were punished after violence erupted at the end of their World Cup qualifier against Switzerland in November 2005. They were ordered to play their next three home games away from home, and behind closed doors.
Which is why the stadium in Frankfurt is empty. Hollow. All but dead.
Norway lead 2-0 at halftime. Turkey have a lot chances and they get one back. The standard of play is fine but the match is not entertaining until the very end when Turkey snatch a 2-2 draw, leaving Norway keeper Thomas Myhre devastated.
Since 1971, I’ve spent countless hours in packed sports stadiums from Barcelona to Helsinki and from Seoul to Los Angeles but it’s only this evening I truly realise how utterly vital the spectators are.
The chants, the shouts, the flags. People close together, living the thrill of the sport. Nothing of that is present this evening and it’s an acute loss.
Before kickoff the national anthems of Norway and Turkey were played but nobody sang along, nobody clapped their hands, nobody roared afterwards in anticipation.
It’s a far cry from the sell-out matches here during last year’s World Cup. Tonight, the voices of the players, calling to each other on the field, carry easily. Outside, pressing against a high metal fence, some 50 Turkish supporters cheer and I hear them as well. Loud and clear.
Peter Starck is a Reuters correspondent based in Frankfurt