Furious fans put tennis ball in Bundesliga's court

Angered by the decision to play football on Monday nights, fans threw hundreds of tennis balls onto the pitch, delaying Eintracht Frankfurt's 2-1 victory against RB Leipzig on Monday.
Angered by the decision to play football on Monday nights, fans threw hundreds of tennis balls onto the pitch, delaying Eintracht Frankfurt's 2-1 victory against RB Leipzig on Monday.

FRANKFURT • Fans protested against Monday night football in the Bundesliga as Eintracht Frankfurt beat visiting RB Leipzig 2-1, delaying the start of both halves of the match, the second by throwing hundreds of tennis balls onto the pitch.

Leipzig, who missed a chance to go second in the table, had a penalty revoked by the video referee (VAR) and there was also a half-time scuffle in a bad-tempered game played during non-stop whistling by angry fans.

The win took Frankfurt up to third with 39 points, one behind Borussia Dortmund, while Leipzig are fifth with 38. Bayern Munich are runaway leaders with 59.

The match was the first of five Monday night games scheduled to be played in the Bundesliga this season, a decision which has angered supporters.

Hundreds of fans occupied the area behind the pitch with banners which carried messages such as "No to Monday night football", delaying the start of the match for six minutes.

Before the beginning of the second half, hundreds of tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch and toilet rolls were hurled at the goals, causing a further delay.

Instead of singing, fans whistled constantly for much of the game.

Frankfurt supporters groups had called for the protests on Friday, saying the league and clubs were "prepared to sacrifice our interests for the smallest of financial gains".

"As long as they have a few more euros in their pockets, they couldn't care less how many days' holiday we need to take to attend an away game," said a statement from the fans. "Marketing is their highest priority."

The Bundesliga had said it wanted to give more recovery time to teams playing in Thursday night Europa League matches, which is the case with Leipzig this season.

Jean-Kevin Augustin gave Leipzig a 13th minute lead, but the hosts hit back with two goals in five minutes through Timothy Chandler and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Furious fans put tennis ball in Bundesliga's court'. Print Edition | Subscribe