Union Berlin’s promotion in May this year caused a global stir, as the Bundesliga prepared to welcome a team from the former East Berlin for the first time.
Immediately, thoughts turned to what would be the Bundesliga’s first Berlin derby. Western neighbours Hertha immediately suggested that the fixture be played on November 9th, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
That Germany’s capital has never seen a top-flight derby seems remarkable when one thinks of the footballing powerhouses of London, Madrid, Amsterdam and Rome. But Union President Dirk Zingler had no desire to use the occasion as a publicity stunt.
“To be honest, I don’t understand the request,” he said. “For me, it’s a derby – it stands for rivalry, for division. And [it stands for] football-based class conflict in the city.” Berlin’s history makes it a truly unique city, and Union’s makes it a truly unique club.