The Union of Berlin arrives in the Bundesliga for the first time, as Stuttgart relegated

  • Union 0-0 Stuttgart (agg: 2-2, the victory of the Union in goals away from home)
  • The play-off of descent causes joy for fans in Berlin

The Union of Berlin arrives in the Bundesliga for the first time, as Stuttgart relegated
The players of the Union of Berlin were lifted and transported in their stadium after securing the promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time on Monday.

A goalless draw at home against Stuttgart in the second stage of their playoffs was enough for the club based in Köpenick, who finished third in the second division. The Union defended for almost the entire match and advanced to the top flight with away goals after their 2-2 draw in the first leg in Stuttgart.

Thousands of fans covered the field in scenes of unbridled joy in the cozy Union Stadium after the final whistle, lighting flares, hugging, jumping and cheering, and many captured the occasion on their phones. The fans savored their club's greatest achievement, possibly even bigger than winning the East German Cup in 1968.

Union coach Urs Fischer was quickly soaked in a beer shower while the club president, Dirk Zingler, could not contain the tears. "I've been in this club for 40 years." I've waited this day for so long, "Zingler said.

After its best campaign in the second division, Union is the first club of the Oberliga of East Germany that plays in the Bundesliga since the Energie Cottbus was relegated in 2009.

Union, whose beginnings date back to 1906 as Olympia Oberschöneweide, resisted financial difficulties and a spell on the fourth level after German reunification to become the second-best supported team in Berlin after Hertha. The fans helped him overcome the difficult times by contributing with the workforce to modernize the stadium in 2008, while they donated blood four years earlier to raise funds for the club with cash shortages.

Union is proud of its resistance to the regime of East Germany, in contrast to the hated rival Dynamo Berlin, the club of the head of the Stasi Erich Mielke. Dynamo won 10 consecutive East Germany titles from 1979 to 1988 amid accusations of favoring match-fixing and political favors but now languish in the fourth division.

The union is the 56th team to play in the Bundesliga, and the first-second division team to secure promotion through a playoff from Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2012. Stuttgart, who finished third from below in the Bundesliga, was relegated. The club recently named Sven Mislintat, formerly known as Arsenal, as its sporting director and will now have to devise a return to the top flight.

"The whole club did everything for this success." It was a great team performance, even if we had our problems in the first half, "Fischer said." But I always thought we would make it. "

Hundreds of Union fans welcomed the team bus to the stadium with red flames of breath before the game. In the stadium, a choreography of two hands holding a surgically excised heart urged the players to take their hearts in their hands and give everything for "an end to the waiting".

Stuttgart had other ideas. The visitors thought they had taken an early lead through Dennis Aogo's free kick, but Nicolás González was offside and preventing the vision of Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz. The referee Christian Dingert discarded the goal in the first use of VAR in the Stadion An der Alten Försterei (Stadium in the House of the Old Forester).

Former Stuttgart striker in Germany, Mario Gomez, entered for the second half, which was delayed when Union fans found some leftover flares and fireworks that greeted the team upon arrival. The visitors kept up their assault on Union goal, but Suleiman Abdullahi hit the post twice for the home team before Gikiewicz had the last word when he saved Benjamin Pavard. The France defender, who won the World Cup last summer, will play against the Union in the Bundesliga next season: he will join Bayern Munich.

"It's indescribable," said the union's managing director, Oliver Rohnert, whose team previously had missed the opportunity to secure automatic promotion for a goal. "The team took the hardest road they could."