“When I saw videos of the Frankfurt Ultras, I was immediately hooked!”

Brian Sanders (@KCSGE) is from Kansas City and part of the US Podcast “Hey Eintracht Frankfurt”. Last week we had a chat with him about the Super Cup final between Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Bayern Munich. Brian also took some time to answer a few questions about being a Bundesliga supporter in the US.

Hey Brian, you live in the US and, as people can see on Twitter, you are a proud supporter of Eintracht Frankfurt. How did you become a fan?
I became a real “football” fan whilst following the 2006 World Cup in Germany. So when I was looking for a team to support, I remembered my ancestry from the Frankfurt area. Eintracht also has an eagle on the club badge, which also peaked my interest. What really got me hooked were the videos of the Frankfurt Ultras. It was still in the early days of Youtube, but there were already several videos of them in action. Especially videos of the famous “Pippi Longstockings”-chant impressed me and from that point, that was it.

That’s why your podcast is called “Hey Eintracht Frankfurt”?
Yes, at first we also had a few other ideas. But it’s simple, it’s straightforward and it’s easily recognizable, so we stuck with it.

Is it easy to watch the Frankfurt matches? And how about the Bundesliga in general?
Well, of course, it would be easier if I was a Bayern fan. All of their matches are shown. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s the Bundesliga, the Pokal or the Champions League, you will easily be able to find it somewhere. At the moment “Fox” has the broadcasting rights for the Bundesliga, which makes it easier. Previously the Bundesliga was exclusively shown on “Gol TV”, which was horrible. They only had one game per starting slot; so one Friday -, one early Saturday -, the Topspiel at the evening, and both Sunday games. Still, Frankfurt was very rarely broadcasted, so for me, the switch to Fox has been great. Up to three of the 15:30 kick offs are shown simultaneously now. Most of the Bundesliga fans in the US are additional subscribers to the Fox streaming package, which includes all 1st and even 2nd Bundesliga games. Only FC Bayern or Dortmund fans can afford to pass on this one.

In Kansas City you are 7 hours behind German time, so how does your typical matchday look like?
For most of the games, I go to the Kansas City Bier Company. The pub has some good beers and shows three games. Sometimes people also bring their tablets to stream additional ones. It is not a Frankfurt bar but has a good mix of fans from different clubs. Usually, there are between 10 and 30 people on any given Bundesliga matchday. As well as a large number of Bayern fans, you will definitely have some Dortmund and Schalke fans, with Werder Bremen also having a strong following as well as Hamburger SV and FC Cologne. The traditional teams all have a handful of fans. Nevertheless, there is not too much of a rivalry, with the fans quietly watching together and not bothering each other. Sometimes people do have an eye on me though, like when Alex Meier got subbed on for his last game against Hamburg. Way before he actually scored, I had already started shouting: “He’s open, he’s open!”

In your opinion, how big is the community of Frankfurt fans in the US?
There are groups all over Northern America. There are two in California, one in Texas, one in the Midwest, which I have started and one in the East coast area. As Frankfurt have been to the US a couple of times, the fan base has definitely increased in recent years. US national team players like Timothy Chandler always help to increase popularity and Frankfurt seems to be strong in the Latin American community thanks to Marco Fabian and Carlos Salcedo. Obviously, the Bayern and Dortmund groups are bigger, but let’s see what the recent Pokal victory will do for the future.

How about your stadium experiences?
I have to admit, I still have it on my bucket list. There are other members of our podcast who have ticked this one off. Roman for example, who is from Frankfurt and lived in Germany until 2000 used to go to the stadium regularly and has a lot of funny anecdotes. Nathan has also been to a few games; once he won a free trip and fell in love with the stadium on sight. I will definitely be visiting the stadium within the next couple of seasons. Apart from that, I have already arranged my working schedule for the Europa League final in Baku. Just in case Frankfurt goes all the way.

Do you also follow an MLS club?
Yes, Kansas City actually has an MLS team and it is one of the founding members of the league, which started in 1996. The club changed its name from Kansas City Wiz to Sporting Kansas City. For a minor club the record is kind of successful, having won two MLS Cups. I go and watch them when time allows.