120712_reuters_rtr3baxx REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
Undying Support

In Germany, Soccer Is a Matter of Life and Death

Especially death. The Bundesliga club Schalke 04 opened a cemetery for fans who want to be buried near their beloved team's stadium. (We're not sure this will take off in the U.S.)
BY John Godfrey Posted
December 07, 2012
11:01 AM
Today in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, the Bundesliga team Schalke 04 opened a specially designed cemetery for fans who want to be buried close to their team's stadium. For the low, low price of just 6,656 Euros—or $8,602—Schalke supporters can receive an urn or coffin burial alongside fellow fans, just a corner kick away from where U.S. international Jermaine Jones and the rest of the team plays.

The above fee secures 25 years of grave maintenance in one of the 1,904 plots close to Veltins-Arena. The program provides a lifespan solution for soccer fans when you consider that Schalke opened a maternity room in an area hospital three years ago.

"You can start your life with Schalke 04 by getting baptized, you can get married at the stadium and now you can be buried at the Schalke cemetery," Schalke's public relations officer Sonja Berger told CNN.

Believe it or not, Schalke is not the first team in Germany to build a cemetery for fans. Hamburg-based club HSV opened a similarly soccer-centric bone orchard near its stadium in 2008. Hamburg's most loyal fans can get the full coffin treatment for 2,350 Euros or have their ashes buried in a club urn for 390 Euros.

This sort of phenomenon underscores the cultural rift German soccer legend Jurgen Klinsmann faced when he took over as coach of the United States national soccer team in 2011. He had the perfect resume. He brought an experience level and passion that were both undeniable and infectious. He also showed up with a, well, Germanic approach to the beautiful game that sometimes clashed with the American players.

Klinsmann seemed to wonder: Why would you play video games when you could be on the training field, playing more soccer?

Why eat a fat-filled In n' Out Double-Double when you could be optimizing your nutritional intake for the next match?

In America, soccer is the fourth- or fifth-biggest team sport. In Germany, soccer is the Biggest Thing There Is. It's a matter of life and death. Especially death, as recent events indicate.

What do you think—is this the next trend to take off in Major League Soccer? Should we be looking for a New England Revolution or Chivas USA graveyard someday soon?

Please share your thoughts below.

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