German football is, for the most part, a well-run sport that caters to its fans in a way the English game can only dream of. Tickets are affordable and the beer flows freely.
However, the opening round of this season’s DFB Pokal provided an unsavoury moment that will undoubtedly live long in the memory among fans the world over.
Visitors at the 32,000-capacity Stadion Dresden in Saxony, it’s fair to say Red Bull Leipzig received a hostile reception, with one Dinamo Dresden fan going as far as throwing the severed head of a bull onto the pitch.
— DIE WELT (@welt) August 21, 2016
A homage to the pig’s head thrown as Luis Figo by Barcelona fans during his time at Real Madrid and as grotesque a display as you are likely to see, it nevertheless carried a clear message to the Leipzig club and only tells half the story.
Because Dinamo Dresden and RB Leipzig is a rivalry that goes beyond football – it’s about money and, more specifically, the distorting power of cash on the game.
Separated by just 75 miles, it was Dinamo Dresden that was, once upon a time, the bigger of the two clubs, having won eight league titles while part of the East German football setup.
Even after reunification, when East German sides struggled to compete with their more affluent, structured West German rivals, Dresden still enjoyed a four-year spell in the Bundesliga, before suffering relegation back in 1995.
Promoted back to the 2.Bundesliga last term, Dinamo are still some way of making it back to the big time but the situation at Red Bull Leipzig, by comparison, will undoubtedly leave a bitter taste in the mouth of their fans.
Because back as early as 2009, Red Bull Leipzig didn’t even exist.
Back then, they were a fifth-division side called SSV Markranstadt with a very small fan base.
That all changed the minute energy drinks supplier Red Bull came calling. They bought the club, changed the name and gave them a new kit.
A year later, Red Bull Leipzing moved to a new 44,300 seater stadium stealing the ground away from local sides Lokotmotive Leipzig and Sachsens Leipzig.
With Lokomotive stuck in the doldrums of the German game and Sachens ultimately dissolving, the energy drinks firm bankrolled Red Bull Leipzig’s ascent up the German football pyramid with the club competing in the Bundesliga for the first time this term.
That’s only the start for Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz though.
Speaking in a rare interview with The Guardian back in 2011, he laid out the club’s plans for the coming years:
“We are developing RB Leipzig with the aim of playing in the Bundesliga in three to five years. We also want to get into the Champions League and be successful there, which is something you can only achieve with a club that plays in one of the top leagues.”
It’s not the first time Mateschitz has done this either.
In 2005, he was guilty of a similar rebrand of SV Austria Salzburg who were rebranded Red Bull Salzburg.
That move prompted a mass exodus of fans unhappy at the club for ditching its old name and kit and decided to form a new version of SV Austria Salzburg.
Something akin to a German edition of MK Dons, RB Leipzig have been upsetting the applecart ever since with Dresden fans not the only ones unhappy at the way Red Bull has bought success to the club.
Upon confirmation of their promotion to the German top-flight, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge remarked to Zeit that while it was “all well and good that again a club from the east is in the Bundesliga,” most “would have been happier if it were Dynamo Dresden.”
But while Leipzing they may have achieved their target of reaching the Bundesliga, they won’t be winning the German Cup any time soon after losing to Dresden on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
Something tells us few tears will be shed.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.