St Pauli is a club that stands alone. Their dedication to fan based democracy, has become representative of the core liberal and social values of the neighborhood to which it belongs. As top level football continues to put the interests of broadcasters and sponsors over the fans, supporters of the Brown and White have become a reactionary movement against this trend.
In a world of match fixing, corrupt international tournaments, and increasingly unsustainable player wages, Sankt Pauli refuse to let success on the field compromise their core values. They hold themselves to a higher standard of transparency, volunteer activism, and fundraising campaigns than most major charities.
All decisions made by the club are democratic. When they added a new corner to the grounds, they decided to use the extra space to build a kindergarten. FC Lampedusa is a club born out of a local project to help a group of refugees who had arrived on the shores of the already overcrowded Italian Island (Lampedusa). When the police tried to build a prison cell underneath the stadium the fans stopped the plans, and turned the space into a museum dedicated to the club. The extent to which people around the world have come to identify with the St Pauli doesn’t become truly apparent until you walk into the Jolly Rodger Pub. There, a collection of stickers from politically like-minded fan groups around the world, cover the walls and ceiling.
Despite being at the bottom of the German second division, every one of their matches is sold out. As the majority in the football world continue to operate at a level that is completely disconnected from its fans, it is crucial that other clubs begin to adopt St Pauli’s model in their own way. The “Do It Yourself” culture that exists around the club is an inspiring example of the power of fan activism.