St. Pauli FC: More than just a Football Club

Based in one of the most dynamic areas and the night-life district of Hamburg, St. Pauli FC is not only a football club but almost a “cult” for its supporters.  If you take a walk on the famous Reeperbahn Street in the center of St. Pauli, you’ll see people everywhere wearing skull and crossbone tops- the club’s unofficial emblem. What makes St. Pauli FC different to other clubs? Let’s take a closer look at the club’s culture, supporters, rivalries, team, results and future.


Cult-Like Culture:

A fundamental principle of the club is: “St. Pauli FC is the club of a particular city district, and it is to this that it owes its identity. This gives it a social and political responsibility in relation to the district and the people who live there.”   This principle shows clearly that St. Pauli FC is more than just a football club; it’s a socially and politically responsible entity that cherishes beliefs away from football and sports in general. Beliefs built around left-leaning politics and social activism have shaped the image of the club and have created its “Cult” identity.


St. Pauli is also a worldwide symbol for punk and related subcultures.

For instance, some worth mentioning initiatives the club has undertaken are banning right-wing nationalist activities and displays in its stadium in the 1980s when fascist-inspired football hooliganism threatened the game across Europe and making repeated team appearances in rock music festivals.


Home matches are opened with “Hells Bells by AC/DC and “Song” 2 by Blur is played after every goal scored.



It doesn’t matter whether they win or lose, the fans are always marching and cheering for the team in the streets of St. Pauli after each home match. Of Course, recent years’ results have led to fans’ discontent but no matter what happens, they are always ready for unconditional support. St. Pauli FC’s fan base is famous for being left-leaning and upholding beliefs such as anti-racism, anti-fascism, anti-homophobism and anti-sexism.  Also, they traditionally participate in protests and social movements in the district of St. Pauli. The club is proudly labeled as having the largest number of female fans in Germany. Moreover, despite their results on the field, St. Pauli FC has gathered a wide-world fan base that is attracted by the club’s off-field activism and culture.




Hamburg’s more successful football club; Hamburger SV are one of St. Pauli FC’s fiercest football rivals. The intense rivalry of the two clubs’ supporters goes back to the late 1940s. However, the two clubs have only met a few times because they have rarely played in the same league division.

Aside from football, St. Pauli’s supporters’ social and political stance brought them into conflicts with other clubs’ supporters. Take St Pauli FC versus Hansa Rostock for example. Hamburg and Rostock both have shipping ports, which makes them hanseatic city rivals. But to a bigger extent, the rivalry reflects the supporters’ historical and political disagreements.  I will not go into detail on the political and historical conflict background, but I can say that this rivalry has troubled the German football scene for years causing a number of violent clashes since the early 1990s until now. The Police always take high security measures to anticipate any disturbance when those two teams meet.


Team and Results:

St. Pauli FC has spent most of its seasons playing between the “Regionaliga Nord” and the 2. Bundesliga. The club also made a few appearances in the 1. Bundesliga. The only official trophies the club collected were from finishing first in the 2. Bundesliga in the 1976/1977 season and first in the “Regionaliga Nord”in the 2006/2007 season. In the last 14 seasons, St. Pauli FC participated twice in the 1. Bundesliga, 8 times in the 2. Bundesliga and 4 times in the “Regionaliga Nord” with the last 2 seasons spent in the 2. Bundesliga, finishing 4th and most recently 10th.

Because of its results in recent years, St. Pauli FC couldn’t keep hold of some of its best young players like Max Kruse and Carlos Zambrano who moved respectively to Freiburg and Frankfurt.



Players come and go, performances change from one season to another but what is stable is the solid support of the fan base that is always behind the team no matter what. A lot of changes in the squad are expected for the coming season, but predicting the performance and results is out of the question.


I’ve been living in St. Pauli for more than a year now, and I have to say that seeing things up close and taking part in the action is very different to watching from a distance. In the end, whether you like the club or not, you can only have respect for their commitment and their supporters’ loyalty.


Simon Sammour