Friday will see Borussia Dortmund play their first pre-season game ahead of the 2019/20 campaign. The away match at FC Schweinberg will be a special occasion for many reasons. Preparations for the encounter have been going for months now, a fixture which the eighth-division side earned the right to contest by refuelling in the truest sense of the word.
The 5,000 tickets for the game are embossed with the words "Centenary Match". They cost €15 each and were sold out within a few hours of their release. Schweinberg, which boasts a population of 700 and which is located in the parish of Hardheim in the Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis district, is set to experience the greatest sporting event of all time on 12 July when last season's thirteenth-placed team in the Kreisliga Büchen will go up against the runners up from the German Bundesliga. Proceedings are also due to be broadcast live on BVB-TV.
This stellar event's passing off will be due in large part to the remarkable efforts of 250 volunteers on the day of the game. Preparations have been going on for months. A total of 3,200 euro-pallets have been carpentered into four makeshift stands to provide 1,500 (standing) spectators a place from which to watch the game. A further 3,500 spots are located on the two-tier slope which borders the pitch. Predictions as to the weather conditions currently range from "stormy" to "sunny but dry" and "light but unceasing rain at a temperature of 19 degrees Celsius". There is no roof, meaning it will be a pure footballing experience.
"The level of commitment is phenomenal and the support massive", said the chairman of the 440-member club, Jürgen Schwab. Dr. Reinhard Rauball, the president of a club 352 times larger than Schweinberg in the form of BVB, has been impressed by this commitment. He wrote in his welcome address as acting head of the German Football Association that "all of the helpers who are working hard in the background to make sure that this match can take place in front of 5,000 spectators have earned my deepest respect. It also attests to the fact that volunteering is alive and well and that you live for your club! Everybody can be very proud of this effort!"
How did this extraordinary contest between an eighth and first division side come about? From spring 2018, 162 clubs across Germany participated in a competition held by BVB partners Aral and Payback, whereby BVB could be "won" by collecting points. Every litre of diesel or petrol purchased at an Aral petrol station could be credited to the buyer's favourite club in the form of points. These points were then divided by the number of club members. By its own admission, FC Schweinberg, which is situated 14 km to the west of Tauberbischofsheim, was able to profit from its rural location. The Aral petrol station on Würzburger street was clearly in a particularly convenient spot as compared with the other competitors: a total of 225,000 litres of fuel were registered in FCS' name.
As a result, there will be a one-off fixture between the eighth division team and the Bundesliga participants. The dressing rooms have been renovated especially for the occasion and a club mascot has been created. Together with BVB mascot EMMA, "Luphi" will lead the officials and the teams out onto the pitch. Given "Schwein" means "pig" in German, it is only natural that Luphi is one...
Furthermore, one euro from each ticket sold as well as the takings from a tombola will be put towards good causes.