Thursday 25 November 2021
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The very special flight from Union Berlin
In the evening, Union Berlin will play one of the two finals of the European Conference League. In terms of club history, the Maccabi Haifa match is independent of the outcome. In a special place, the German Bundesliga delegation collects special impressions that no one will forget.
1. FC Union Berlin is under pressure to succeed in the league conference. Koppenkers must score today in Maccabi Haifa (6.45pm / RTL+) in order to maintain a chance of reaching the knockout stage. In the first leg against the champions of Israel, the bottom of the current table in Group E collected the only points so far in a 3-0 win at the Olympic Stadium.
The starting position is complicated for the Bundesliga club, but at the same time it is very clear: Al Ittihad occupies the last place in the table of Group E with three points. With two wins in the last two games in Haifa and against Slavia Prague at the Olympic Stadium on December 9, coach Urs Fischer’s side would have reached the knockout stage. A draw in the Mediterranean might also be enough for the final against the Czech champions. But Prague must not win the simultaneous duel with Feyenoord Rotterdam.
Great game, not only in terms of sports
Regardless of what happens in terms of sports, a historical record for the club has already been set: about 600 Al Ittihad supporters made their way to Israel. For Berliners, this is the most competitive game since the fall of the Berlin Wall that the Federation must compete with. 2794 km as the crow flies between Berlin and Haifa. Previously the furthest was Helsinki at 1,104 kilometers as the crow advanced, where Al Ittihad laid the foundation for the group stage with a 4-0 victory over Kuopio. 20 years ago, a flight to Bulgarian Lovech meant that the farthest distance to the place is 1,340 km when the crow flies.
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But the game is also important for an even bigger reason: with a representative from the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, a delegation from 1. FC Union Berlin visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. “It has been a great need for us to use our official trip to Israel to visit this special place and I am so grateful that we can be here,” club president Dirk Zingler said in a statement.
There was a scandal in the first leg because spectators became anti-Semitic and seditious. The club subsequently disqualified at least one member from the club, and several onlookers were investigated. “There is absolutely zero tolerance for discrimination at 1. FC Union Berlin. We have therefore initiated all measures available to us to remove this person from our ranks. We have also sent all information available to us to the State Criminal Police Office for investigation,” FC Union President Zingler was quoted in a statement.
The 57-year-old led the delegation, which also laid a wreath after touring the memorial. “Facing the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany against the Jews of Europe, we are astounded and saddened here today,” Zingler stressed. “We take with us impressions that will occupy us for a long time and that none of us will ever forget.”
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