FC VIKTORIA 1889 BERLIN
Founded: Jun 6, 1889
Club Members: 1,620
Coach: Semih Keskin
Captain: Jakob Lewald
German Champions / Bundesliga: 2
Regionalliga Nordost: 1
Landespokal Berlin Winner: 3
Formed after a merger in 2013, FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin are an ambitious new challenger in the race to become the capital's third footballing power behind Hertha and Union; and they can trace their origins back to the formation of two clubs at the turn of the 20th Century - BFC Viktoria 1889 and FC Lichterfelde.
BFC were established as 'Berliner Thorball und Fußballclub Viktoria von 1889 ' and quickly became one of the dominant teams in the area - winning five consecutive Berlin championships from 1893 to 1897. They also became national Deutscher Fußball und Cricketbund (German Football and Cricket League) champions in 1894 after their opponents in the Berlin final - FC Hanau 93 - couldn't afford to make the trip and forfeited the match. Their success led them to becoming one of the 86 founder members of the DFB (German FA) in Leipzig in 1900 and it wasn't long either before they were making their mark in the National Championship with title victories in 1908 and 1911.
After BFC had settled down as a solid performer in the Oberliga Berlin Brandenburg during the 1920s, German football was reorganised following the Nazi rise to power in 1933 with 16 regional divisions called Gauliga created to replace the Oberligen. Now known as Berliner FC Viktoria 89, the club won the inaugural Gauliga Berlin-Brandenburg before making it to the National Championship semi-finals the following season. In 1936, there was another name change - this time to BFC Viktoria 89 Berlin - although it didn't bring with it a throwback to more successful times and they were relegated two years later. The upheaval of World War 2 saw them form part of a combined wartime side called KSG Lufthansa/Viktoria 89 Berlin in the truncated 1944-45 season before allied tanks on the streets of Berlin brought an end to Hitler's 'Thousand Year Reich' and the introduction of a post-war policy of de-Nazification in occupied Germany that saw all sports clubs forced to disband.
Amidst simmering tension between the western allies and the Soviets, the club duly reformed in late 1945 and emerged from the 'Stunde null ' (zero hour) as SG Tempelhof before reclaiming their pre-war identity of BFC Viktoria 89 Berlin on 12th July 1947. They joined the Oberliga Berlin which was affiliated with football in the western half of the now divided Germany and claimed quickfire titles in 1955 and 1956. The league however was relatively weak, and its teams fared poorly when coming up against their top-flight counterparts from other parts of West Germany - including Viktoria who were unable to transfer their Oberliga form beyond the early rounds of the national German Championships.
After failing to follow up the 'Miracle of Bern' World Cup triumph of 1954, the DFB replaced the regional Oberliga competitions with a pan-German professional league in 1963 and although clubs on the West Berlin 'Island of Freedom' weren't the strongest, in the interest of Cold War politics it was important that the divided capital had a representative in the new Bundesliga. Hertha Berlin got the nod and like many other clubs struggling with the economic and social divisions caused by the Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall), Viktoria began a slide into the lower leagues before finally coming to rest in the fifth tier Oberliga Nord by 2013.
Lichterfelder FC's history is complex to say the least - a constant flux of splits, dissolutions, name changes and mergers which began on 20th March 1892 with the formation of a long forgotten club called FV Brandenburg Berlin.
FV spent their formative years playing in local championships before briefly being split in two when its members went their own separate ways to form TuFV Helvellia Berlin. The two sides reunited in 1905 before football, and by proxy the club, was brought to a shuddering halt by the advent of World War I. As Germany struggled to catch its breath after the conflict, many clubs found restoring past glories and teams ripped apart by war difficult with many forced to complete mergers in order to survive. In 1919, FV merged with a local club called Berliner SC 09 Brandenburg to form SV Brandenburg Berlin before yet another union in 1921 saw them join forces with BBC 03 Berlin to create BBC Brandenburg Berlin.
By 1929, after yet another name change, they were playing as FV Brandenburg Berlin and were joined in 1933 by players from FC Eintracht Lankwitz. As Hitler's megalomania began to turn World War II against Germany, football in the country became increasingly difficult due to player shortages, travel problems and damage to stadiums from Allied bombing raids; and in order to fulfil fixtures the club were forced to become part of a wartime side called Rot Weiß Schöneberg.
At war's end in 1945, the occupying Allied forces intensified their efforts to stamp out fascism in the minds of sportsmen and women by ordering all sports clubs in Germany to disband. Later that year, FV Brandenburg Berlin's members established a new club called SG Steglitz Friedenau (SG stands for 'Sports Community') which was duly renamed FV Brandenburg Berlin in 1950. 1971 was marked by another merger when the club teamed up with SG Lichterfeld to form FV Brandenburg Lichterfelde, before becoming VfB Lichterfelde 1892 after joining up with Lichterfelder Sport Union in 1988. Finally, on 7th June 2004, the club settled on their final name and were renamed Lichterfelder FC Berlin.
These myriad predecessor sides enjoyed only limited success in Berlin football circles. Both Lichterfelde clubs made occasional appearances in the Amateurliga Berlin during the 1950s and 60s. Sport Union spent a single season in second-tier competition in the Regionalliga Berlin in 1966–67. VfB won promotion to the Oberliga Berlin in 1989, became a founding member of NOFV-Oberliga in 1991, and played there continuously until being demoted in 2004 after a 16th-place finish - although they did advance to the final of the Paul Rusch Pokal (Berlin Cup) in 1998 where they lost to Tennis Borussia Berlin before returning to the Oberliga after claiming the Verbandsliga Berlin championship title in 2006.
Always up for a get-together, the members of BFC Viktoria 1889 and Lichterfelder FC Berlin agreed to join forces in 2013 to form FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin and in accordance with German tradition, the newcomers took the older merging club's year of foundation (1889) as their own. Despite the merger taking place nearly a century later therefore, a couple of gold stars have been added to the fusion club's badge on account of BFC's German Championship titles in 1908 and 1911. Unable to bring the same level of rich history to the union as BFC, Lichterfelder brought with them the Stadion Lichterfelde which became the new club's home, 1,200 members and no fewer than 40 active youth teams which gives Viktoria the largest football department of any club in Germany.
Viktoria kicked off life playing in the fourth tier Regionalliga Nordost (courtesy of BFC's promotion from the NOFV Oberliga the season before) and won the Berlin Cup that season with a 2-1 triumph over SV Tasmania Berlin in the final. Their win brought gave them a first-ever appearance in the DFB-Pokal debut the following year although that adventure ended at the first hurdle after going down 0-2 to Bundesliga heavyweights Eintracht Frankfurt in front of 10,514 at the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark. Having won all eleven Regionalliga Nordost matches at the start of the bleak 2020-21 Geisterspiele season, the North Eastern German FA (NOFV) decided to end the season prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin were promoted to the 3.Liga for a single-season cameo before returning to the Regionalliga ahead of the 22-23 season.
Ground Name: Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark
Architect: Rudolf Ortner
Year Opened: 1951
Renovations: 1964, 1970, 1986-1987, 1998, 2015
Capacity: 19,708 (all seating)
Record Attendance: 30,000 (1974)
Construction Costs: DM 15m
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: Yes
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 110m x 72m
Stadion Lichterfelde (2013 - 2021)
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark (2021 -)
Backing up against what was the inner wall in the east and just a short walk from where thousands flowed through the Bornholmer Straße checkpoint on 9th November 1989, the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark is one of those places in Berlin where, in the words of Italian songwriter Francesco Guccini … "pieces of the past are mixed with shreds of the present ". Tainted by its association with East Germany's failed experiment in dictatorship, the stadium was home to 'Stasi club' BFC Dynamo and became a meeting place for Berlin’s right-wing, neo-Nazi, hooligan and criminal underground. Even its name has caused controversy amid claims of anti-Semitism and Nazi ideology. Few European grounds have struggled with the specters of the past as much but that only adds to the Jahn Sportpark's gritty allure.
Long before Stasi leaders haunted the stands, the land was used by the Prussian Army and it became known as Exer - a nickname derived from the German word Exerzierplatz meaning 'parade ground'.
Locals also referred to it as Platz an der Einsamen Pappel (Place by the Lonely Poplar) after a tree on the site where 20,000 rebellious Berlin workers gathered on 26th March 1848 to demand regulated working hours, minimum wages and the introduction of compulsory schooling from the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV.
By the end of the 19th century, the army had moved on and the vacant square was being used by local residents who lived in crowded tenement blocks and had no other access to open areas. Interest in football was also gaining traction in Germany at the time and an exhibition match between teams from Berlin and Dresden was played here on 18 April 1892 which the Berliners lost 0-3. Hertha BSC then made the Exer their first home later that summer after 'The Old Lady ' was founded in a pub around the corner.
Meanwhile, attempts to stop locals using the ground for their own matches were stopped in their tracks when nobody wanted to stump up the cost of building a wall (this is Berlin after all) around it. In 1910 however, with lawsuits demanding recreational use of the ground being filed against them, the War Ministry finally agreed to sell up and in June 1912 the city of Berlin paid DM 6.5 million for the site before converting it into a sports facility a year later.
After being used as a military base during World War 2, architect Rudolf Ortner was appointed to build a multi sport complex on the 22-hectare site from the rubble of Berlin's ruins with a showpiece stadium at its heart. Opened in time to host the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1951, the new venue had a capacity of 30,000 and was called Berliner Sportpark before being renamed a year later in honour of a fervent patriot called Friedrich Ludwig Jahn on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Jahn is a divisive figure in Germany. To his admirers, he is the father of Gymnastics and a hero who organised gymnastic festivals across the country to counter "the physical decline of humanity" following Prussia's defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. For others though; his xenophobic, anti-Semitic views draw parallels with the National Socialist aim to create the ultimate German citizen through the body perfection and the debate about whether or not to rename the stadium has rumbled on for years.
In 1953, army club Vorwärts Berlin became tenants and after a first league title arrived in 1958, five more followed during the 1960s as a lively battle for Oberliga supremacy was fought - and generally won - with FC Carl Zeiss Jena. However, despite being the state's most successful club, the infamous head of the Stasi - Erich Mielke - began reshaping East Berlin's football scene to the benefit of his favoured club BFC Dynamo and in 1971, in a move bearing all the hallmarks that had become de rigeur in state socialist East Germany, Vorwärts were forced to relocate 65 miles east to the footballing backwater of Frankfurt an der Oder. Their departure from the capital cleared the way for Mielke to move BFC Dynamo into the FLJ and 'his boys' went on to tower over the rest of East German football amidst widespread rumours of doping, bribes and corruption. Dubbed by rival fans as Schiebemeister (cheating champions), they won ten titles on the trot between 1979-1988 and also established themselves as a force in Europe with the likes of Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, AS Roma and Aberdeen all visiting the Jahn Sportpark.
By the time the Berlin Wall came down however, the blatant favouritism shown towards them by the state had rendered the once great Oberliga a moribund irrelevance and East Germany's top clubs all struggled to adapt to the free-market Bundesliga as association with communism, a general demographic exodus and lack of success on the field led to falling attendances. Having profited most from the state-controlled football of the GDR, it was BFC Dynamo who suffered the most when that backing disappeared. As the club sold its stars to the West and began a descent towards the lower reaches of the German game, a brutal hooligan scene soon had the stadium firmly under control and with crowds staying away and money becoming tight, Die Weinroten moved out of the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark in 1992 leaving the stadium to fall into disrepair.
Despite numerous renovations over the years, including a €2 million refit to bring it up to scratch ahead of the 2015 UEFA Women's Champions League final, Berlin's third largest stadium remains a decaying relic of the Cold War era. Merging early and late phase East German modernism, it's a typical continental bowl with a lower tier ringing the pitch in a continuous sweep of signature multi-coloured seats - save for the double-tiered main stand which dominates the eastern side of the ground. Opened in 1987 when the stadium underwent a revamp, the grandstand's coral red panels contrast sharply with cold brutalist architecture and it's where you'll find the matchday offices, players tunnel and dug-outs. Its façade is also notable for the so-called 'Mielke Ramp' which allowed the Stasi Minister and his flunkeys to get out of their Volvos and Volgas right outside the VIP lounge on the upper floor.
The main stand's dilapidated condition means that its upper tier is closed and because the lower tier is reserved for media and VIPs, most fans tend to congregate instead under the roof of the
Gegengerade (Blocks H-O) along the western side of the ground. Immediately behind this stand is a section of the Berlin Wall covered in chunky lettering and coded messages by graffiti artists. Beyond that is the Mauerpark (Wall Park) which stands on land that was known as the 'Death Strip' on account of the hundreds of observation towers, attack dogs, trip-wire machine guns and armed guards primed to shoot anyone trying to escape to the West.
The remaining sides of the oval shaped ground are open to the elements and away fans are normally welcomed into the southern Kurve (Blocks F-G) - although it was closed on our visit (21.11.21) and the Gäste Block was moved instead to Blocks H-J on the Gegengerade. A well maintained synthetic athletics track installed in 1970 sets the ends behind the goal a fair distance from the action and four iconic trapezoidal floodlights are as much a part of the stadium's look as the distinctive red, yellow and green seating added in 1998.
Although plans to completely renovate the historic (albeit decaying) FLJ were drawn up in 2019, these have continually been put back by the Berlin authorities who have set aside a whopping €160 million to convert it into an 'inclusion sports park'. The latest delay has come following a legal challenge by lawyers who state that the development plans were not "legally compliant and highly vulnerable to legal action" and have ordered new plans to be drawn up that take into consideration the environmental impact of the development on the surrounding area including the proposed felling of trees. As part of the planning process, an architectural competition to design the new stadium complex is also due to take place and expected to be completed by mid-2022. Whether or not things remain on schedule however is anyone's guess.
Meanwhile, whilst the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark's long-term future remains uncertain, 3.Liga newcomers FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin have moved in and will play their home fixtures here for the next two seasons on account of their own Stadion Lichterfelde home falling well short of the league's stadium regulations.
2021-2022: 1,866 (3.Liga) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 562 (Regionalliga Nordost) *
2018-2019: 505 (Regionalliga Nordost)
2017-2018: 469 (Regionalliga Nordost)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
The club website and online ticket shop are both in German only but Google Translate will make short work of being able to navigate your way around. Tickets are sold in either Print@Home or Mobile versions; or they can be posted to you - although anxious types should note that they can take anywhere between 4-9 working days to land on your doorstep. International orders take even longer to arrive.
Tickets for Blocks J, K, L, M, N, P and R can also be bought on a matchday by visiting the cash-only box office which opens 90 minutes before kick-off at the 'Cantianstadion' just off Cantianstraße. It's easy enough to find but if in doubt, just head to the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark and follow the signs in front of the main stand directing you to the box office.
Wheelchair spaces are also available. For further information, drop Sascha Lange at the club an email (email@example.com).
Promotion to the 3.Liga brought with it only a marginal increase in demand for tickets and even with a capacity limit of 10,000 on matchdays, the 'FLJ' was never anywhere near being packed to the rafters. The gap between supply and demand now that Viktoria are back in the Regionalliga therefore is going to be a healthy one. All tickets cost €14 with 50% discounts available for seniors, disabled people, students and children (aged 6-12). Under-6s are let in free of charge although this doesn't entitle them to a seat of their own.
PLEASE NOTE: All information in this section is subject to change due to COVID regulations. Please refer to the club website for the latest ticket information.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
If you're in the car, there are a number of different directions you can come and the simplest advice is to put the stadium address in your Sat-Nav and follow its guidance. Be warned though, there are no official car parks available for fans at the ground and only limited parking in the surrounding area. If you can, park up somewhere near a U-Bahn station and take public transport from there.
The Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark is very well connected to the dense public transport network in Berlin, although your match ticket does NOT include travel to and from the stadium on a matchday. Getting there from the centre of Berlin will be covered by an 'AB' ticket which costs €3 each way - but don't forget to validate it by stamping your ticket at the yellow or red boxes on platforms, buses or trams. It's called 'Entwerten ' in German and anyone caught travelling without a stamped ticket escapes only with a red face and a €60 on-the-spot fine.
You have a number of options available to you. On the U-Bahn, U2 (Direction: Pankow) crosses the city centre with convenient stops at the transport hubs of Zoologischer Garten, Potsdamer Platz and Alexanderplatz before making its way to Eberswalder Straße, a five minute walk from the ground. Alternatively, jump on U8 (Direction: Wittenau) and get off at Bernauer Straße from where it's a 15 minute stroll to the turnstiles. On the S-Bahn, take either of the S41 or S42 lines which circle around the Ringbahn and hop off at Schönhauser Allee for the short walk to the FLJ.
You can also get to the match aboard one of the 'Bombardier Flexity Berlins' - the name given to trams on one of the oldest and largest networks in the world. Jump on Tram M10 (Direction: S+U Warschauer Straße) at Berlin Hauptbahnhof for the 10 minute ride to the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark stop.
Berlin is BIG and the city has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure people don't have to walk to the match. If you do want to burn off some Currywurst however, use Google Maps to help plan the route - but give yourself about an hour from Alexanderplatz or the Hauptbahnhof to avoid missing kick-off.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
The main fan shop can be found at the club's Stadion Lichterfelde home in the south of the city (Krahmerstraße 15, 12207 Berlin ; 3pm-6pm, Mon, Wed, Fri).
There's also a temporary fan shop operating out of what looks like a container unit at the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark. The stock range is limited but there was a roaring trade in sky blue scarves on our visit. It's only open on matchdays and you'll find it behind Block P at the north end of the stadium.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
There's no shortage of pre-match bars and restaurants in the hip Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood around the stadium.
Prater on Kastanienallee is the city's oldest beer garden (open since 1837) and a good place for classic Berlin dishes or to guzzle a cold one before making your way to the match. Brave the queues outside Konnopke's Imbiss (Schönhauser Allee 44a; 10am-8pm, Mon-Fri; 12pm-8pm, Sat ) for legendary Currywurst from one of Berlin's cult sausage kitchens. Gugelhof made headlines in 2000 when feeding former US President Bill Clinton and instead of 'dining out' on its fame ever since, continues to serve up robust German meals and inventive daily specials.
There are plenty of cafes in the streets surrounding the Eberswalder Straße U-Bahn station and the line between cafe and bar often blurs as the hands move around the clock - much to the disapproval of noise-sensitive neighbours.
The options inside the FLJ won't make the culinary big-time but you can still fill up on Bratwurst and watch the match with a few pints of Berliner Kindl - and you'll be pleased to know that you can pay for everything with cash.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: 1.FC Union Berlin, Hertha Berlin, RB Leipzig
BUNDESLIGA 2: FC Hansa Rostock
3.LIGA: Erzgebirge Aue, FSV Zwickau, Hallescher FC, SG Dynamo Dresden