It’s the first International Break of the season, so here at Fear the Wall we thought we’d pass the time by ranking the Bundesliga’s mascots. We’re certainly not the first to power rank mascots as there’s something so darn mesmerizing about these (mostly) furries. Mascots are surprisingly polarizing as some find them flat out disturbing or plain don’t know what to make of them to the point that the Bundesliga made a satirical video about it.
To tackle this effort (and ensure fair and accurate results) we utilized a thoroughly vetted and complex series of formulas and systems whereby the FTW staff individually ranked each of the 16 eligible mascots from 1 - 16 where 1 = supreme favorite and 16 = deplorable and should be burned. After each staff member added their ratings, the median value was calculated automatically courtesy of Google Sheets.
Despite the prevalence of mascots it is mildly intriguing that information on some is not readily available. We dove down a Bundesliga mascot rabbit hole to dig up some backstory on the topflight mascots, as ranked by FTW. Read on to see how many have verified social media accounts (a fair number do!) and which teams don’t even have a mascot (see Editor’s Note).
#16 Bulli (RB Leipzig)
It should come as no surprise that Bulli is as equally reviled as the team which he represents. Just take a glance at his “factfile” on the team site or his verified Insta feed (because of course he’s Insta verified) to know why. His likes include “spreading good vibes” and white pasta with red sauce. Let’s offer a moment of silence here to recognize the sacrifice made by FTW to bring you this information.
#15 Brian the Lion (Bayer Leverkusen)
Yes, you read that right. Brian is a lion. But unlike actual lions, Brian is not on the top of the mascot food chain. Born in 2002, the Werkself mascot’s “give af” attitude is prominently on display with his scraggly yellow mane, earring and his professed love of overindulging at mealtime.
#14 Berni (FC Bayern)
A bear as a mascot in Germany is about as obvious as Bayern winning the league. Berni certainly looks cuddly enough (thanks to some recent “work” perhaps?), but his personality is blasé. Serving as the mascot since 2004, Berni is plenty popular within the Bayern community but this bear simply insists upon himself.
#13 Herthinho (Hertha Berlin)
This bear with flair proves he is more than just your average bear. One look at his blue and white mohawk and goatee is proof enough. This Brazilian brown bear is a lucky charm for Hertha as he has yet to miss a home match since 1999. But perhaps this bear’s luck has run out as Hertha has been flirting with relegation for the past several seasons.
#12 Johannes the Clown (FSV Mainz 05)
Johannes may not be the official mascot of the club, but that makes him no less spectacularly...creepy. Yes, spectacularly creepy. Johannes’ official capacity is as the mascot for Mainz’s 05 KidsClub. While the men’s team is without a mascot, Johannes deserves to be included here because, well, just look at him.
#11 Bobbi Bolzer (VfL Bochum)
Meet Bobbi Bolzer, the poor man’s Mickey Mouse. This rad little rat is aimed at Bochum’s children’s club where the little ones (and their families) can enjoy a match in the BobbiBlock and even score a meet-and-great. When asked to describe himself in three words, he chose: indomitable, creative and enterprising. Maybe Bobbi should take over head coaching duties if the boys from Bochum stand a chance of avoiding relegation this season.
# 10 Wölfi (VfL Wolfsburg)
Rounding out the top 10 is dear, Wölfi. The selection of some mascots is perplexing and requires a bit of research to determine the association between said mascot and team. Wolfsburg, however, capitalized on the obvious in a way that doesn’t come off as lazy. Wölfi is one of the most unassuming of the lot as there is little to no mention of him on the team site (scroll aaaaalll the way to the bottom), he has no social media presence and one of the top Google results is a rather altruistic article on the wolf.
#9 Hoffi (TSG Hoffenheim)
Meet Hoffi. Hoffi is a Cancer who enjoys traveling, having fun and making headlines! This elk is not one to just idly sit by on the sidelines. Hoffi prefers to be in the mix and not miss out on any of the action. Possibly the only mascot to ever be red carded during a match, Hoffi also caused quite a stir when he (literally) lost his head during a goal celly!
#8 Füchsle (SC Freiburg)
The fox is often described as a cunning animal given their strategic nature and pack hunting mentality. It makes sense, then, for Freiburg’s mascot to be a fox given their successful run of late. The team now plays in the newly christened Europa Park and there were rumors of Füchsle being replaced by Europa-Park’s Ed Euromaus! But, alas, this down to earth fox remains a staple on matchday to make sure everyone is having a good time.
#7 Emma (Borussia Dortmund)
Ah, at last our dear Emma makes her appearance! At the team’s core, they are the Black and Yellows and no other team’s identity is so strongly embodied by their colors as is Borussia Dortmund. It is fitting that a critter as equally renowned for the same color scheme represent as the team mascot. This plump bee has endeared herself to the players and fans alike with her infectious smile both on and off the pitch.
#6 Fritzle (VfB Stuttgart)
Say hello to Fritzle, the friendliest croc you’re likely to ever meet! One of the longest serving mascots in the top flight, Fritzle “hatched” onto the scene back in 1992. But Fritzle isn’t stuck in the Mesozoic era - he has his own verified Insta account and even went skydiving! Fritzle’s 6th place spot is well deserved as this rockin’ croc was once voted the most liked mascot...seriously, check out his bio: he hatched from a red spotted egg and wishes he was in Crocodile Dundee.
#5 Erwin (Schalke 04)
Clocking in at number five might be one of the most bizarre mascots on this list: Erwin. What is Erwin exactly? Human? Animal? Looking at Erwin, it’s as if Ziggy, Charlie Brown and George Michael Bluth had a child (you tell us if this video of Erwin doesn’t remind you of George Michael’s sad walk). Even Erwin’s profile is non-descript although the Bundesliga states Erwin is a miner. Nevertheless, Erwin gained notoriety back in 2018 when the German FA issued a warning to the mascot when it issued a red card to referee Felix Zwayer. Maybe it was this moment that earned the admiration of so many.
#4 Jünter (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Disappointingly, there doesn’t seem to be much information on the internets about the BMG mascot. But what he lacks in an online presence, he makes up for with his main character energy. For many diehard fans of the Bunducksliga, they vividly recall Jünter in rubberduck form! This giant-toothed foal is one of the few Bundesliga mascots to boast his own Wikipedia page and has been supporting Die Fohlen since 1965!
#3 Ritter Keule (FC Union Berlin)
Some of us, here at FTW, are major FC Union Berlin stans. If you’ve ever managed to catch a game to witness their performance, it’s a no brainer that a knight represents them as mascot and has done for the past twenty plus years. Ritter Keule is described as a truly iron knight with a courageous heart and he wields a bloody mace. This makes both Ritter Keule and the Eisern Union a formidable opponent not to be underestimated. They say as much in an epic Union Berlin Knights song. Stop what you’re doing and watch this. Right. Now. Don’t make Ritter Keule come at you with his mace.
#2 Attila (Eintracht Frankfurt)
We’ve now arrived at the first appearance of a living mascot on our list. Attila, the revered golden eagle is a site to behold at every home match for Eintracht Frankfurt. An eagle has long repped the team in stylized form, but did not become a mainstay until the DFB Pokal final in 2006. When the team was newly promoted that year, they were on the hunt for a new mascot and an Eintracht employee just happened upon Attila at an air show! The rest, as they say, is history. With a wingspan of over six feet, Attila provides a calming and majestic presence on the pitch. Some even call him the team’s lucky charm as he was on hand when Frankfurt beat Bayern in the 2018 DFB Pokal final. We could gush for days about the 18 year old Attila (we were utterly fascinated to learn how Attila spent his time during quarantine). Make no mistake...he is one, cool bird.
#1 Hennes (FC Köln)
::insert obligatory GOAT pun here:: Come on now, was there any doubt as to who would top this list? Who else but Hennes as the Greatest (Mascot) of All Time. Heralded as the Bundesliga’s most famous mascot his history with the club goes all the way back to 1950 when Hennes I was gifted to the club and named after then-head coach, Hennes Weisweiler. Over the course of 72 years, there have been nine iterations of Hennes and while the tenure of some was short-lived (Hennes I, II, and III), others have served the team, fans and community for longer. The most famous of all might, arguably, be Hennes VIII. During his reign, we saw him move into new digs at the Köln Zoo, escape during a match and we’ll never forget Anthony Ujah’s assault on dear Hennes and his subsequent apology. Hearts were broken with the news of his passing. Hennes IX took over mascot duties in 2019, but his personality has yet to be on full display as he was banned from match attendance during the COVID pandemic. Hennes is deeply woven in the fabric of both team and community so it’s safe to say this Billy GOAT will reign supreme for years to come.
Editor’s Note: Neither Werder Bremen or FC Augsburg had mascots eligible for participation. Werder Bremen has been ‘mascot-less’ for some time. Werdi the seagull most recently had the honor but she was fired at the turn of the century not to be seen again until the DFB Cup semi-final against FC Bayern when Werdi appeared in tifo form.
FC Augsburg is also without a mascot despite circulated images. Images display a puppet version of a popular character from children’s books first published in the 1960s, Jim Knopf. Today, the characterization is less innocent and more divisive as the portrayal is considered racist by today’s standards. The city of Augsburg has deep ties with puppets as it is home to the Augsburger Puppenkiste. The association is so strong that when the captains meet for the toss, the visiting side is given a marionette from Augsburg’s Puppenkiste. Until the 2013/14 season, a Jim Knopf marionette was gifted, but it seems the club may have parted ways with the Knopf character specifically as he hasn’t been seen on the pitch since 2019.
There you have it, folks! Do you agree or disagree with how we ranked the Bundesliga’s mascots? Soon, you’ll have a chance to cast your vote during FTW’s inaugural Mascot Madness taking place on Twitter.