Union Berlin celebrate staying up with fans in club car park

Berlin (AFP) – With matches in Germany played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus, FC Union hope they will not fall offside with the German Football League (DFL) for an impromptu party their squad held with a group of fans in their stadium’s car park to celebrate avoiding relegation.

Their 1-0 home win on Tuesday against bottom side Paderborn, who had their relegation confirmed, meant mid-table Union has survived their first season in Germany’s top flight.

Just over a year ago, home fans flooded the pitch in Berlin as Union were promoted to the Bundesliga after they saw off Stuttgart in a two-legged promotion/relegation play-off.

However, the German league’s hygiene protocol currently in place due to the pandemic left fans celebrating outside the stadium in east Berlin following Tuesday’s victory – until the players joined them in the car park.

“When you’ve made it and crossed the finish line, it’s just a great feeling,” said Union’s Swiss coach Urs Fischer.

“We worked very hard for it and played a great season.”

After Fischer gave a post-match press conference, the Union players showered him with beer while fans lit fireworks outside.

Union players led by captain Christopher Trimmel came out to party with a group of fans, Fischer drank a glass of wine and club president Dirk Zingler made an emotional speech, declaring “we will work to ensure that football takes place with fans again.”

“There was nothing that got out of hand”, insisted Union’s club manager Oliver Ruhnert.

“Most of it was done observing social distancing.

“If anything, the matter at hand was very, very brief. I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.”