(AFP) - German FA interim president Reinhard Rauball admits being touched by the compassion shown by football fans in Dortmund after a fan died during a Bundesliga match on Sunday.
Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 home win over Mainz at their Signal Iduna Park stadium was overshadowed after a 79-year-old collapsed with a suspected heart attack in the south stand and died, despite efforts to revive him, during the first-half.
In a separate emergency, a 55-year-old also collapsed, but was revived on the way to hospital.
The game was played afterwards in near silence as fans in the sold-out 81,000 crowd showed their respect.
"In the name of Borussia Dortmund, I particularly want to thank all the spectators for the sensitivity they showed," wrote Dortmund's CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke on the club's home page.
After the final whistle, the Dortmund team gathered in front of the club's iconic south stand as the home fans sang an emotional rendition of the club's anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" in a spontaneous gesture of respect.
"The news circulated quickly via WhatsApp and social media and the news reached the whole stadium, including those from Mainz," said Rauball, who is also Dortmund's club president.
"I have never experienced something like that before, where the fans have show such dignity, their humanity and marked their grief. It was unspeakably beautiful.
"I'm happy to criticise the fans when they cross the line, but on this occasion they deserve a compliment in the highest terms.
"The honour they showed, with such a feeling for what is appropriate, could not have been expressed better."
Rauball says the eery atmosphere in the stadium reminded him of what it was like in the Stade de France after the Paris terror attacks of last Nov 13 following Germany's international friendly.
"Moments like that bring those memories back up," he said.
Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, who spent the night in the Stade de France stadium with the rest of the Germany squad last November, also made the comparison.
"There were parallels with Paris. Everything was quiet, but also troubled," said Hummels.
"We knew something had happened, but didn't know what. It was quite strange.
"It was a very good reaction from the public for the fans to start singing this song."
Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin added: "I had goosebumps. I've never experienced anything like that before."
Coach Thomas Tuchel said his squads' thoughts after the game were with the man's family.
"We see it everyday: there are far more important things (in life) than a football match."