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Indianapolis Soccer Fans Hit the Road With One Goal in Mind

(Photo courtesy of Bastian Himmeroeder)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While most of the soccer-watching world focuses on the Southern Hemisphere and the Women’s World Cup, an Indiana-based band of fans is looking -and driving- in the other direction.

Dubbed “INDIANAPOLIS 09”, the group is a patchwork of people from all kinds of backgrounds, drawn together by a love of the German soccer side Borussia Dortmund.

The club meets each matchday at Union Jack, to cheer Dortmund (or BVB, a nickname that is a nod to the team’s roots) – through both victories and, it seems, inevitable defeats: BVB had a hand on last season’s Bundesliga trophy but lost it with a final-day stumble. Instead, the team’s longtime nemesis, Bayern Munich won… again. The powerhouse squad has taken the last 11 straight Bundesliga titles.

The only ‘rules’ for the Indianapolis Dortmund fan club center on the dress code: wear black and yellow, because the team’s colors are a foundational element of its identity. A towering fan terrace in the home stadium is known throughout world soccer as the Yellow Wall – or Gelbe Wand.
Fan club organizer Bastien Himmeroeder sees deep symbolism in it. “In the yellow wall, all people come together, men and women, elderly and kids, rich and poor, to cheer on the team,” he explains. “And Indianapolis and Dortmund have a similar culture and composition and people can connect to it.”

This week, Indianapolis takes its own Gelbe Wand up I-65 to Soldier Field in Chicago Wednesday night (8/2). There, INDIANAPOLIS 09 will cheer on BVB against Premier League side Chelsea, as part of an offseason American tour that both teams frequently participate in. The pictures accompanying this article show the turnout as Dortmund played at Notre Dame in South Bend in 2019. Chelsea played at Lucas Oil Stadium a decade ago.

(Full disclosure: Apologies to Chelsea fans – this writer is a proud supporter of Borussia Dortmund. HEJA BVB!)

Expect to see more blue than yellow in the game in Chicago. Chelsea is a very well-supported club in the United States, and Indianapolis has at least one local fan club, Indy Blues FC.

Tickets are still available – including spots that promise to be the loudest: the North End of Soldier Field will serve as the Gelbe Wand. The South End will be the ‘Shed End’ – in a nod to the loudest part of Chelsea’s home stadium.