RB Leipzig Ultras: German Soccer's Great Contradiction

Mateschitz had recently criticized the German government’s decision to open its borders to refugees from the war in Syria, and a television network owned by Red Bull had earned a reputation as a platform for populist figures in both Germany and Austria.

What made the demonstration noteworthy was not the presence of the banner — over the decade in which it has risen from German soccer’s regionalized fifth tier to the semifinals of the Champions League, the club has inspired far worse — but its location.

After all, its opponent, Paris St.-Germain , is little more than a vanity project on behalf of the Qatari state, a soccer club co-opted by a nation keen to win a little soft power and perhaps airbrush its human rights record.

On the other hand, there is — in a sporting sense — much to admire about Julian Nagelsmann’s team: its inventive, bright young coach; its commitment to playing attacking soccer; its belief in nurturing talent; its intelligent and productive recruitment.

He believes that Red Aces were integral to helping the club foster an “open-minded, tolerant” environment that has voiced support for refugees and staged demonstrations against Pegida, the Islamophobic group that first gained prominence in Dresden before spreading across Germany .

Oliver Mintzlaff, Red Bull’s head of soccer, has said publicly that he does not believe sports and politics should mix, an idea that is anathema to Germany’s organized fan scenes.

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