The summer break was short. In mid-May, Werder Bremen secured direct promotion back to the Bundesliga by beating Jahn Regensburg 2-0 on the final day of the season. After the promotion celebrations, the players could go on vacation. It ended on June 19, when coach Ole Werner asked to start training in Bremen.
Eleven days after the performance diagnostics, the team traveled to the Zillertal to prepare for the coming season at a training camp in Zell am Ziller. The conditions in Austria are perfect if there hadn’t been a disruptive factor.
The right-wing populist FPÖ party held a day of action right next to the Green-Whites’ training ground last Sunday. Werder tweeted a photo of the event and wrote: “We feel so much at home here that we also stand up for it in the Zillertal: CLEAR EDGE AGAINST NAZIS.”
A reaction from the FPÖ was not long in coming. Press spokesman Leo Kohlbauer wrote on Twitter: “Nobody needs these left-leaning Piefke with us. Let’s celebrate Rainbow Ramadan in Buntland.”
Tyrol’s FPÖ state party chairman Markus Abwerzger described the makers of the Bremen Twitter account as “obvious hollow heads”.
The FPÖ, which is represented in all nine Austrian state parliaments, is accused of being very close to right-wing extremism. Most recently, a collaboration between the former Frankfurt professional Martin Hinteregger and the FPÖ politician Heinrich Sickl caused a stir. Together they planned the football tournament “Hinti-Cup”. Hinteregger’s business relationship with the right-wing extremist local politician, who has connections to the identitarian movement, put him under severe pressure and he was heavily criticized.
“I know that he was a FPÖ politician, which isn’t a bad thing in Austria. But I didn’t know anything about the Identitarian movement and I didn’t know what that meant either,” Hinteregger told the Austrian newspaper Standard: “In Germany, many bring the FPÖ and AfD on the same level, but the AfD is ten times worse.”
Werder has long campaigned against all forms of racism and right-wing extremism. “Every AfD voter should know that it is a contradiction to find Werder good and vote for the AfD,” said Bremen’s President Hubertus Hess-Grunewald four years ago.