DERBY MANIA

FEELS DIFFERENT.

We're playing. We're not playing. We're playing!

"We prepped for this derby three times and won once. But you won't find me complaining!" Kai Ruben, Security Officer and Head of Organisation at BVB, is not a particularly dramatic person. His job doesn't allow it. So when he lets a "This year was rather peculiar" slip, then something was up – to put it mildly.
 
Derby plan 1: The coronavirus was not on anybody's radar at the beginning of the year. The first safety meeting in January to prepare for the local derby scheduled for 14 March was nevertheless special because an event was to be held at the Westfalenhallen convention centre at the same time as the "normal" derby. Alternative areas and routes had to be discussed. Four safety meetings and a site visit were held in quick succession in order to ensure that any clashes between fan groups could be avoided. This was a stress test. But everyone involved has known each other for years, and, despite the rivalry, when it comes to safety and security, this is a good thing.
 
Derby plan 2: Action has to be taken at short notice in early March due to the coronavirus. The match is to be held with no more than 1,000 people in attendance. First things first: How many stewards will there need to be? Will fans gather at the stadium like they did in Paris? Who has to be at the stadium? Who's allowed in the stadium? Which previously-ordered services and materials can be cancelled or changed? Everyone's phones are ringing off the hook – until, that is, the entire match day is cancelled. One day before kick-off. And it's back to square one.
 
Derby plan 3: And then we're back on after all! The match is held on 16 May behind closed doors with only a total of 321 people in the stadium. Everyone's temperature is checked. No one's temperature is elevated, and yet everyone is heated. "Everyone is suffering, most of all the fans." All the hard work that went into the planning paid off. "We feel like we have proven ourselves as team. Knowing that we can trust each other is the most important thing. But "special match operations" – nobody needs that in the long run. Derby mania feels different."