World Cup winner Kevin Grosskreutz has thrown his support behind a group of Borussia Dortmund fans who plan to boycott their club’s first Monday night Bundesliga game.
For the first time, the German Football League (DFL) is experimenting this season by staging five Monday night games in the Bundesliga.
Grosskreutz, 29, who won the 2011 and 2012 German league titles with Dortmund and was part of Germany squad which won the 2014 World Cup, has joined the chorus of fans protesting the initiative.
The first Bundesliga match to kick off on a Monday will be at 2030 local time (1930 GMT) on February 19 when Eintracht Frankfurt host RB Leipzig.
Dortmund host the second Monday night game against Augsburg on February 26 and Grosskreutz, currently with second division Darmstadt yet still a passionate Dortmund fan, is fiercely against the initiative.
“Make a point, stay at home and forfeit your tickets, #DortmundagainstAugsburg,” Grosskreutz wrote on his Instagram account with a picture of Dortmund’s south terrace and the text ‘Mondays? Without me!’.
“Our football must not be lost. The fans are football and as a player, I stand behind the protest.
“It will only work if we stick together.
“What has happened in England and other countries shouldn’t be allowed to happen here, but in the (German) second division it already has.
“The fans have been totally forgotten.”
Up until this season, top flight games in Germany were held mainly on Friday, Saturday and Sundays with a round of mid-week matches occasionally held.
On Friday, a coalition of Dortmund fans announced they will boycott the Monday night kick-off against Augsburg and plan to keep empty Borussia’s famous south stand, which holds around 24,000 fans.
“This decision is in no way directed against the (Dortmund) team, but we can not — and will not — accept Bundesliga matches on Mondays,” read the statement.
“For the Bundesliga, which likes to present itself with its atmospheric terraces and sold-out stadiums, Monday games are a declaration of bankruptcy,” the statement added.
“When matches take place on dates when nobody actually has time to go to the stadium, that reveals the dreadful indifference to the social importance of football and the fans who make the sport what it is.”
Grosskreutz was born in Dortmund and comes from a family of Borussia fans.
He played for Dortmund from 2009 until 2016 when he left for a brief spell at Galatasaray before being sacked by Stuttgart last March after getting into a fight in the city centre.
At the time an emotional Grosskreutz admitted he had “made a mistake” and wanted “nothing to do with football for the time being”, yet a month later he joined Darmstadt.