The situation is serious, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t laugh together. A man in a Hertha jersey speaks up. It’s still about collecting the questions to which you want to find common answers over the course of the day: What does Hertha BSC need? What are the most urgent tasks for the association? The man in the jersey would like to see the question answered: “How does Hertha play successfully?” Everyone laughs.
Well, that’s basically what it’s all about. Or better the question: How does the club have to be set up internally so that it can be successful again in sport at some point? That’s why around a hundred fans and members came to Neukölln on Sunday at the invitation of the “Wir Herthaner” initiative. Its member Kay Bernstein wants to be elected the new president of the Berlin Bundesliga club next Sunday.
“It’s not an election campaign event,” says Ralf Busch, head of Sportjugend Berlin, who moderates the event. “It’s not about personnel policy, it’s about content.” In eight workshops, those present discuss topics that they have previously determined. The sun is burning, the wind is blowing the flipcharts across the site, but that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
In recent years, a lot has built up among the members, a deep dissatisfaction with the club. “The inner attitude of Hertha BSC” is the topic that meets with the greatest interest. At the very end, after the results of the working groups have been presented, Felix Obergföll says: “Anyone who wants to take responsibility at Hertha in the future would do well to think about these points.”
This may affect Frank Steffel, who also came and who, along with Kay Bernstein and Ingmar Pering from the current Executive Committee, is considered the most promising candidate to succeed Werner Gegenbauer, who has resigned. Altogether there are five applicants for the office, a sixth has proposed himself, which is not permitted according to the statutes.
Steffel, a former politician and Hertha’s supervisory board’s preferred candidate for the presidency, is more of an observer at the fan congress in Neukölln. “These are passionate people who care about their club,” he says of the event. “Leading a club against these passionate fans would not be productive.”
He still hopes he can be the candidate everyone agrees on; the one who fills in the deep rifts that run through the club. In the past few days he has had many conversations and got an idea for himself – also of the injuries that are everywhere. “I don’t think we can work through that,” says Steffel. Instead, you have to press the reset button. “I’m able to moderate conflicts,” he says. “I think I can handle this.”
Steffel also spoke to Kay Bernstein and offered him a collaboration, saying: “You reach people I don’t reach. I reach people who are difficult for you to reach.” He even sounds quite confident that the conflict can be resolved by the weekend and that there will be no vote on Sunday, which in the worst case would split the club into two camps.
It sounds very different with Bernstein. He found the conversation with Steffel to be factual, relevant and on an equal footing. But working with him? A waiver of his own candidacy? “No, I won’t,” he says.
The members would have to answer the question on Sunday: “Frank Steffel or Kay Bernstein? Politician or Hertha? Do we want structural change? Or do we want a deal?” To the objection that Steffel had sounded very optimistic about working with him, Bernstein replies: “Maybe he kept the back door open as Vice President.”