Born in Berlin in 1983, Tilo Zingler moved across the pond six years ago. In New York, he worked as a marketing manager for Sofive Soccer Centers and the Bushwick Film Festival, among others. Today, he is digital campaign manager at MOI Global and an ardent Borussia Dortmund fan.
When did you become a Borussia Dortmund fan?
It was May 19, 1993 to be exact. That was the day of the second leg of the UEFA Cup final against Juventus Turin. It was fascinating to see how the fans continued to furiously cheer their team, although they were behind. They even celebrated after the game, despite losing 0–3. Then the 1994/95 Bundesliga season, when Borussia clinched the title, sealed the deal for me. Everything from the team through the club to the neon yellow jerseys cast a spell on me that has never faded.
How do you keep up with Borussia Dortmund games in the U.S.?
At home in New York, I get together with the Brooklyn Borussen at Banter Bar – one of the city’s best football bars. In L.A., I recently watched a Borussia Dortmund game with the local fan club in Santa Monica. On days when kick-off times range from 6.30 to 9.30 am, I also sometimes stay at home and stream the games from bed.
You are a founding member of the Brooklyn Borussen in New York City. How did that come about?
I used to watch Borussia’s major games at sports bars where I would exchange phone numbers with other fans. Next, I scouted bars, found Banter and organized the first viewing party. That was three years ago, and the fan club is now one of the biggest, most active in the U.S. and as diverse as Brooklyn itself. Members often stay for hours after the final whistle to hang out with each other. Our fan club aims to reflect Brooklyn’s multiculturalism; those into Germanomania and the Oktoberfest are probably better off with the Bayern Munich fans in Manhattan.
Is it true you’re currently working on a book about Borussia Dortmund?
Yes. It’s intended primarily for a readership of North American fans. To grasp football the way I like it, you need to understand the bigger sociocultural picture. A club like Borussia Dortmund is not just defined by quantifiable facts and figures, such as titles won. What makes it special is buried deeper than that. There are some great books about Borussia Dortmund – and not just in German but English, too. Many of them have a very British slant, though. If I want to explain the difference between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to an American fan, I’d do better to compare Beverly Hills and Gary, Indiana, rather than Cheltenham and Sheffield. By applying an American cultural and sports history lens to Borussia Dortmund, I aim to make the club more accessible.
Interview: Uwe Schedlbauer
In this section, our main sponsor Evonik, who supports us at all of our international games, lets soccer fans who feel close to Borussia Dortmund but live nowhere near SIGNAL IDUNA PARK have their say.
In 1882, one of Evonik’s predecessor companies first opened a U.S. branch in the same New York borough that is today home to the Brooklyn Borussen fan club. Franz Roessler began producing heat-resistant gold foil in Brooklyn, which was still an independent city at the time. The company took off, as did football in the U.S. Initially, it was sometimes known as the Boston Game and players were allowed to handle the ball, making it a precursor to American football. But over the past 20 years, football, or soccer, has also taken root in the States and is played in both amateur and professional leagues. In fact, many of the 4,600 or so Evonik employees in the country are Borussia Dortmund fans. For Evonik, whose U.S. headquarters are in Parsippany, New Jersey, just an hour’s drive from New York City, the country is something of a second home. At its 38 sites spread across 21 states, the company engages in production, research and commerce. Evonik capitalizes on a diverse workforce, research at top universities and the power of the U.S. market. In turn, the U.S. benefits from the creativity and growth of the Evonik Group, which create many high-quality jobs in the country. Evonik supplies all major economic industries, including the automotive, pharmaceuticals, electronics and agribusiness sectors.