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1. FC Union Berlin

1. FC Union
Full name 1. FC Union Berlin e. V.
Nickname(s) Eiserne, Eisern Union (The Iron Ones, Iron Union)
Founded 1906/1966
Ground Stadion An der Alten Försterei
Ground Capacity 22,012
Chairman Dirk Zingler
Manager Norbert Düwel
League 2. Bundesliga
2014–15 7th
Website Club home page
33px Current season

1. FC Union Berlin is a professional German association football club based in Berlin. The club emerged 1966 under the current name in East Germany but can be traced back to 1906, when predecessor FC Olympia Oberschöneweide was founded. They compete in the 2. Bundesliga for the sixth consecutive season.

The home ground Stadion An der Alten Försterei (Stadium by the old forester's house) is the largest single-purpose football stadium in the German capital. It has been home to Union Berlin and its forerunners since it was opened in 1920. The stadium became internationally famous for events like the annual "Weihnachtssingen" (Christmas Carols Event) and the "WM-Wohnzimmer" (World Cup Living Room) in 2014.

The club is well known for its enthusiastic and creative fan base and is colloquially called "Eisern Union" (Iron Union).


First foundation (1906-1945)

The name 1. FC Union Berlin was used by two football clubs that shared a common origin as FC Olympia 06 Oberschöneweide, founded in 1906 in the Oberschöneweide district of Berlin. The side took on the name SC Union 06 Oberschöneweide in 1910. Union was one of Berlin's premier clubs in the interwar period, regularly winning local championships and competing at the national level, including an appearance in the 1923 German championship final which they lost 0–3 to Hamburger SV.

Early on the team was nicknamed "Schlosserjungs" (English: metalworker-boys), because of their then all blue kit, reminiscent of the typical work clothing worn in the factories of the industrial Oberschöneweide district. The popular cry of Union-supporters – "Eisern Union!" (Iron Union) – also emerged at this time. Since its foundation the club had a clearly working-class image in contrast to other local clubs with middle-class origins, such as Viktoria 89 Berlin, Blau-Weiß 90 Berlin, BSV 92 Berlin or Tennis Borussia Berlin.

In 1933, German football was reorganized under the Third Reich into 16 top flight divisions known as Gauligen. Oberschöneweide became part of the Gauliga Berlin-Brandenburg where they generally earned middling results. They were relegated in 1935 and returned to first division play in 1936 after only one season's absence. In 1940, the team finished first in Group B of the division and then defeated Blau-Weiss (1–2, 3–0) to win the overall division title. That advanced the club to the national playoffs where they were put out by Rapid Wien in the opening group round (2–3, 1–3). Union resumed its place as an unremarkable side. They were relegated again in 1942 and played the final war-shortened Gauliga season in 1944–45.

Dissolution and split up (1945-1961)

After World War II, occupying Allied authorities ordered the dissolution of all organizations in Germany, including sports and football associations. A new Municipal Sports Group called SG Oberschöneweide was formed in late 1945 and it played in the City League organized immediately after the war which had four regional departments. The team did not qualify to the newly created Oberliga Berlin (I) in 1946 after a poor season, but was promoted in 1947, won the division title right away and regained club status as SG Union 06 Oberschöneweide during 1948–49.

The club finished the 1949–50 season in second place in Berlin and qualified to take part in the national final rounds. However, escalating Cold War tensions led Soviet authorities to refuse the team permission to travel to take part. Two Union teams then emerged as most players and coaches fled to the west to form Sport-Club Union 06 Berlin which took part in the scheduled playoff match in Kiel against Hamburger SV, losing 0:7.

The players remaining in the east carried on as Union Oberschöneweide while a number of players who had fled to the west to form SC organized a third side called Berliner Ballspiel-Club Südost. The western team was a strong side until the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, drawing huge crowds to matches in the Olympiastadion. The division of the city led to a change of fortunes for the club which plays today in the lower divisions before meager crowds.

Restart as Union Berlin (1961-1990)

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-G0612-0203-003, FDGB-Pokal, Finale, 1 FC Union Berlin - FC Carl Zeiss Jena 2-1.jpg
Ulrich Prüfke (captain) and Ralph Quest raise the FDGB Pokal trophy in 1968.

The eastern branch of the club went through a number of name changes: Union Oberschöneweide (1950), BSG Motor Oberschöneweide (1951), SC Motor Berlin (1955), TSC Oberschöneweide (1957), TSC Berlin (1963) – finally becoming the football club 1. FC Union Berlin in 1966. They developed a bitter rivalry with Stasi-sponsored Dynamo Berlin. While their arch rivals won 10 titles in a row in highly dubious circumstances, Union yo-yoed between the Oberliga and the DDR-Liga with very little success, largely due to the East German's government policy of favouring 'elite' clubs at the expense of 'civilian' clubs like Union. Union managed to win the East German Cup in 1968 when they defeated FC Carl Zeiss Jena 2:1 although they lost in their second cup appearance in 1986 to 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig by a score of 1:5.

2. Bundesliga era (1990-present)

Supporters choreography in 2010.

After German reunification in 1990, the team continued to perform well on the field, but almost collapsed financially. They managed to hang on through some tight times and find sponsorship, but only after winning their division in both 1993 and 1994 and each time being denied a license to play in the 2. Bundesliga due to their financial problems. The club had another close brush with financial failure in 1997.

Union again came close to advancing to 2.Bundesliga in 1998–99 and 1999–2000, but were disappointed. They were finally successful in 2000–01, under Bulgarian manager Georgi Vasilev, easily winning the Regionalliga Nord (III) and moving up a division to become the city's most popular side after the Bundesliga's Hertha BSC. That same year they appeared in the final of the German Cup where they lost 0–2 to FC Schalke 04, and advanced as far as the second round in UEFA Cup before being put out by Bulgarian side PFC Litex Lovech. The club slipped to the Regionalliga Nord (III) in 2004–05 and then to the NOFV-Oberliga Nord (IV) in 2005–06, but has returned to third division play after capturing the Oberliga title. In 2008–09, Union became one of the founding clubs of the new 3rd Liga, and its inaugural champion, securing first place and promotion to the 2. Fußball-Bundesliga on 10 May.


File:Stadion an der Alten Försterei.png
The main building of the stadium was inaugurated in 2013.

In 1920 SC Union Oberschöneweide (forerunner of today's 1. FC Union Berlin) had to find a new home ground as its former pitch had been built over by developers with residential buildings. The club moved a little further away from the city to the north-western part of the borough of Köpenick. The new stadium was officially opened in August 1920 with a match between Oberschöneweide and the then German champions 1. FC Nuremberg (1:2). The inaugural match in at the Alte Försterei had already been played on 17 March, when Union challenged Viktoria 89 Berlin.

File:Alte Försterei Eröffnungsspiel 03.jpg
The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is the largest single-purpose football stadium in Berlin.

When Union won promotion to the DDR-Oberliga (the top flight in East Germany) in 1966, the stadium soon needed to be expanded. The ground was first expanded in 1970 when the Gegengerade terrace was raised, whilst further extensions to the terracing at both ends in the late 1970s and early 1980s increased the capacity furthermore to 22,500. However, the somewhat spartan facilities at Alte Försterei had quickly begun to show their age though, as the club was not able to properly maintain the expansive ground as attendances - in common with the majority of clubs in the East and West - went into a serious decline. Later, after German reunification, when Union were assigned by the German Football Association to play in the 3rd league, the outdated stadium proved only one of a number of factors that hampered the club's push for promotion to higher leagues.

In the summer of 2008, the club decided to finally modernise the stadium, the Stadion An der Alten Försterei (Old Forester's House). Money was still tight, and so the fans simply built the ground themselves. More than 2,000 Union supporters invested 140,000 working hours to create what is now regarded as the largest football-only stadium in Berlin. The official opening on 12 July 2013, was celebrated with a friendly against Scottish Champions Celtic F.C.. It holds 22,012 people with 3,812 seats. The rest is terracing.

World Cup Living Room

In 2014 the club came up with the idea of inviting fans to take their own sofas to the ground for the whole of the World Cup. 750 sofas were placed on the pitch in rows in front of the big screen.[1]


File:Alte Försterei Köpenick1.jpg
The Alte Försterei (Old foresters house) is the main office of the club.
Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
2005/06 Nike EastWest
2007/08 Silicon Sensor
2008/09 do you football
2009/10 kfzteile24
2011/12 Uhlsport
2012/13 f.becker
2014/15 kfzteile24



File:Union Mannschaft 01.jpg
The team celebrates the Berlin Cup at the Köpenick town hall in 2007.



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Current squad

As of 17 January, 2015.

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 23x15px GK Daniel Haas
2 23x15px MF Christopher Quiring
4 23x15px DF Roberto Punčec
7 23x15px MF Benjamin Köhler
9 23x15px FW Sören Brandy
11 23x15px MF Maximilian Thiel (on loan from 1. FC Köln)
12 23x15px GK Mohamed Amsif
13 23x15px DF Björn Kopplin
14 23x15px MF Valmir Sulejmani (on loan from Hannover 96)
15 23x16px DF Mario Eggimann
18 23x15px FW Martin Kobylański (on loan from Werder Bremen)
No. Position Player
19 23x15px MF Damir Kreilach
20 23x15px GK Steve Kroll
23 23x15px FW Sebastian Polter (on loan from Mainz 05)
24 23x15px FW Steven Skrzybski
25 23x15px MF Björn Jopek
27 23x15px MF Eroll Zejnullahu
28 23x15px DF Christopher Trimmel
29 23x15px MF Michael Parensen
33 23x15px FW Bajram Nebihi
34 23x15px DF Fabian Schönheim
37 23x15px DF Toni Leistner
38 23x15px DF Oliver Oschkenat

Notable players

Reserve team

The club's reserve team, 1. FC Union Berlin II, most recently played in the tier four Regionalliga Nordost, having won promotion to the league in 2012. Previous to this it spend two seasons in the NOFV-Oberliga Nord. At the end of the 2014–15 season the club withdrew the team from competition.[2][3]


File:Neuhaus, Uwe Union 09-10 WP.JPG
Uwe Neuhaus (front) was the longest serving manager of Union Berlin.
Name 1. FC Union Berlin
since to
Karsten Heine 01. Jan. 1988 09. Apr. 1990
Gerd Struppert 10. Apr. 1990 30. Jun. 1990
Werner Voigt 01. Jul. 1990 03. Jun. 1992
Gerhard Körner 04. Jun. 1992 30. Jun. 1992
Frank Pagelsdorf 01. Jul. 1992 30. Jun. 1994
Frank Engel 01. Jul. 1994 25. Jan. 1995
Hans Meyer 26. Jan. 1995 02. Oct. 1995
Eckhard Krautzun 03. Oct. 1995 24. Mar. 1996
Frank Vogel 25. Mar. 1996 10. Apr. 1996
Karsten Heine 11. Apr. 1996 25. Sep. 1997
Frank Vogel 26. Sep. 1997 14. Dec. 1997
Ingo Weniger 02. Jan. 1998 30. Sep. 1998
Fritz Fuchs 30. Sep. 1998 01. Jun. 1999
Georgi Vasilev 01. Jul. 1999 12. Oct. 2002
Ivan Tischanski 13. Oct. 2002 05. Nov. 2002
Miroslav Votava 06. Nov. 2002 24. Mär. 2004
Aleksandar Ristić 25. Mar. 2004 30. Jun. 2004
Frank Wormuth 01. Jul. 2004 27. Sep. 2004
Werner Voigt 28. Sep. 2004 09. Dec. 2004
Lothar Hamann/Holger Wortmann 10. Dec. 2004 19. Dec. 2004
Frank Lieberam 20. Dec. 2004 09. Dec. 2005
Georgi Vasilev 13. Dec. 2005 05. Apr. 2006
Christian Schreier 06. Apr. 2006 19. Jun. 2007
Uwe Neuhaus 20. Jun. 2007 12. May 2014
Norbert Düwel 1. Jul. 2014 today

Club culture

Main article: Culture in Berlin
Punk legend Nina Hagen
Weihnachtssingen (christmas carols singing) in 2010

The club is widely recognized as one of Germany's "Kult" clubs, based on many unique fan and club initiatives over the last two decades.

In former GDR times Union was known for a rivalry with Dynamo Berlin who was affiliated with East Germany's Secret Service Stasi. Union was patronized by Eastern German Trade Union FDGB. The club played some identificatory role in the unofficial opposition against the authorities of the communist system.[4]

In May 2004, the supporters raised enough money to secure the club's license for fourth-division football through a campaign called 'Bleed for Union'. This catchphrase was not meant metaphorically. One element of the campaign was that fans donated blood to Berlin hospitals and then gave the money they received from the blood bank to their club.

After 2010 Union Berlin became increasingly attractive for new Berliners, even internationals, who were drawn to the clubs atmosphere.


File:Union Berlin Bär.jpg
Berlin Bear wearing the traditional colours

The official Union Berlin song is "Eisern Union" by the famous German Punk-Star Nina Hagen. The composition was recorded in 1998. Four versions were issued on a CD single by G.I.B Music and Distribution GmbH.

Union Berlin is also well known for its Christmas traditions celebrated in their home stadium. In 2003 the yearly Union Weihnachtssingen started as an unofficial gathering to which just 89 fans showed up. In 2013, 27,500 people attended, including players and supporters of other teams from around Germany and Europe. Fans drink Glühwein (mulled wine), wave candles around, light flares and sing a combination of Christmas carols and football chants.

See also


  1. "The secret police with its own football team". BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  2. Das deutsche Fußball-Archiv Invalid language code. Historical German domestic league tables
  3. 1. FC Union Berlin II at Invalid language code. Tables and results of all German football leagues
  4. K. Farin/H. Hauswald: Die dritte Halbzeit, 1993, p. 5–14.

External links

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