Till death do us part – and after, too
True passion knows no final whistle at Hamburg fan cemetery.
Hamburg -- "HSV forever and ever," is the anthem of German Bundesliga soccer club SV Hamburg, or HSV. Now fans can be true to their team after death.
Europe's first cemetery for football supporters opened Tuesday in the port city, just a stone's throw from the club's home ground, the Nordbank Arena.
The final resting place offers fans who have left their earthly life the chance "to hear how a match has ended," said Christian Reichert, the club official responsible for fan affairs.
The cemetery, which took one year to lay out, allows deceased supporters "a feeling of being present," even after death, Reichert added.
Located within a larger cemetery, the grave plots are modeled on a soccer stadium, with a concrete goal guarding the entrance. The grass used to be part of the Nordbank Arena's football pitch.
Among the different types of funeral services on offer is one with the club anthem played during the burial, or the use of a blue coffin painted in the diamond-shaped HSV logo.
The undertaker who arranges the services chose the slogan "True passion knows no final whistle" to advertise his football burial package.
He also promises that the coffins will be covered with "soil that has been played on" when they are lowered into the ground.
"The first funeral will take place here in the next few days," he added. There have already been 20 firm enquiries from fans ranging in age from 28 to 80.
HSV board member Horst Eberstein, 79, says he is keen to secure a spot for himself in the fan cemetery. But one of the club's most famous players, Uwe Seeler, dislikes the idea.
"If there are supporters who want that, it's fine with me but maybe that's a bit too much," said the former striker.
There are enough plots to accommodate up to 500 fans. Club officials say the only other cemetery of its kind was opened by Argentina's Boca Juniors last year. But unlike the South American site, the Hamburg one is within close distance of the stadium.
The idea came about because Germany's strict funeral laws prohibit the scattering of ashes on playing fields as is practiced in the Netherlands.
Regulations also do not allow the burial of urns along the sidelines as is possible at the ground of English Premiership club Everton.