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Opinion: The Problems with Borussia Dortmund’s Involvement in TST

On-field antics and abysmal performances overshadow what could have been positive outreach in USA.

A couple of months ago, Borussia Dortmund announced that the club would be participating in the inaugural TST, or “The Soccer Tournament.” It was an enticing prospect, as BVB has been looking to expand their international footprint. The announcement was exciting; action shots from Karim Adeyemi, Marco Reus, and Marius Wolf promoted the event. It’s a seven-versus-seven tournament with a unique set of rules to make the event more exciting (See my previous article on TST). Dortmund’s squad was to be led by club legends who would face competition like Culture by Mo Ali FC, Zala FFF, Hashtag United, and Blade and Grass FC. I bought tickets for TST right away, thinking BVB could have a decent shot at winning this. Most everything I thought about BVB’s involvement was wrong, however. What fans received was a ragtag band of BVB employees, college players, and social media influencers, with cameos from Dedé, Kevin Großkreutz, and Felipe Santana.

Game 1: Hoosier Army 5-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund kicked off this tournament with the very first game. I admittedly missed much of the first half, but when I arrived in my shiny yellow jersey, BVB was already down 0-2. I was cheering on the team as best I could, but the Indiana University Alumni squad simply outclassed those wearing this season’s cup jerseys. I was even protesting when BVB conceded a penalty in the Target-Score-Time and the following shot was so easily put away that subsequent penalties in the tournament were moved to the box touchline. When exiting the stadium, I saw Dedè and Großkreutz and I waved and clapped and yelled that I’d be cheering them on later that day in game two.

Game 2: Newtown Pride FC 8-0 Borussia Dortmund

So this one actually started well. The match was on a secondary field so it was streamed on YouTube rather than Peacock. Emma was there and I took a selfie with our buzzing mascot who graciously handed out BVB T-shirts and hats. Thanks, Emma!

This was my view of Newtown Pride FC vs BVB

The first half went surprisingly well, ending scoreless. The second half was when things went awry. Following a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge between a Newtown and BVB player, the ref blew the whistle against Newtown, calling a foul and stopping play. This is when Social Media Influencer Noah Beck, representing BVB, charged into a Newtown player, arms raised, striking him unprovoked. He’s then hit back by Newtown’s Stefan Mijatavic before most players from both teams became involved. The whole affair caused a lengthy stoppage in the game as the referees debated what was happening. The decision was a very deserved sending-off of both Beck and Mijatavic. Make no mistake though, Noah Beck was the aggressor in this situation. I did not see the red card raised for Dedé, but it came several minutes later, I believe from his incessant complaints to the officials. I didn't hear what was said, but seeing such a mature and respected Dortmund player stooping down to the same level of disrespect as some 20-year-old influence punk was disappointing, to say the least. While every game from this tournament is available to watch as a replay on either Peacock or Youtube, this particular match is mysteriously missing. This is only speculation, but does this match make Noah Beck look bad? Yes. Does this make TST look bad? Yes. Does this make Dortmund look bad? Yes.

Following the dismissals, it was five versus six and the Connecticut Soccer League’s team steamrolled Dortmund. Noah Beck exited the field and entertained a crowd of preteens and teenagers who wanted to take selfies while Dedè sat beside him with far fewer fans asking for his autograph. Beside me was a grouping of teenagers screaming expletives at the referee (for the remainder of the game) and claiming Beck was struck so hard that he was bleeding, (he was not) and this was the moment that I realized more people were watching this game for Noah Beck than for Borussia Dortmund. The disrespect coming from the “Dortmund” support was terrible. Are these the kind of fans that BVB is looking to recruit? I put my head down in what might be the only time I’ve felt embarrassed to be wearing a Dortmund jersey.

I watched a lot of matches over this four-day tournament and this is the only game to my knowledge that saw red cards. This was a spectacle that would make neutral fans dislike Dortmund. That’s what bothers me more than anything else.

Game 3: Kingdom FC 7-1 Borussia Dortmund

Not sure what to say here. By day two of TST, I only reluctantly wore a Dortmund jersey, and far fewer people at the tournament wore black and yellow. At this point, I thoroughly expected Kingdom FC, a team organized by reality Television stars, would kick Dortmund’s butt. I was right.

Not All Publicity is Good Publicity

A few weeks ago, Dortmund announced Roman Weidenfeller as their keeper for this tournament so I was really disappointed to see him replaced by Michael Bolvin aka Social Media Influencer Modern Goalkeeping. Did I expect to see Dortmund’s regular first team? No, they finished their season a week ago. Did I expect some kind of respectable team? Yes, yes I did. Three former players is hardly a squad of “Legends.” So who did I come to this tournament to root for? Because a negative-seventeen (-17) goal differential from three games with 20-minute halves is a bad look for everyone involved. Each team in Group A won two games except for BVB, and the group was decided on goal differential. It was a matter of who could score more against Dortmund. I’m not suggesting BVB’s squad could have won any of these games, but they could hardly compete with teams nobody has heard of. I fear more spectators have left this event with a negative view of Dortmund than those who entered excited to watch the Black and Yellows.

The Problems with Social Media Influencers

To be an “influencer” requires a heavy dose of narcissism and enough closed-minded followers to reinforce said narcissism. TST’s social media pages are chock full of videos featuring Noah Beck in a Dortmund jersey, yet they lack images of Dedé or GRoßkreutz. I can only speculate as to what kind of partnership TST has with some of these social media influencers and how folks like Noah Beck and Michael Bolvin end up wearing Black and Yellow. Did Dortmund have any say in this? A social media influencer’s main objective is to gain personal followers. Do I think Beck cares about Dortmund? No. Three days ago I watched a TST video in which he struggled to think of five Dortmund player names. Noah Beck will still grow his fanbase at TST, and TST will attract more people to the event by using Dortmund’s name and players in their marketing campaign. But Dortmund are the losers here because they certainly didn't gain any fans at this tournament. I have to question who agreed to Dortmund’s involvement in TST and if the club ever took this event seriously. If Dortmund is going to be represented at an event like this, they need to seriously consider what, where, and especially who is representing them. Because this was disgraceful.

Noah Beck was so absorbed in maintaining his social media persona at this tournament, that he’s dragged Dortmund’s name through the mud in order to gain a few more TikTok followers.

And Michael Bolvin/Modern Goalkeeping just isn't very good at goaltending.

End. Of. Rant.

Side Note: I wouldn't be writing for Fear the Wall if I didn't love Borussia Dortmund. But just as I’m a massive fan of this club, I’m also a critic. Dortmund deserves criticism for this embarrassing display and should they be represented at similar events, the club hierarchy needs to review their own ethics standards and seriously consider how the brand will be portrayed. Attending each day of this tournament was fun and exciting; One of the only negatives was Borussia Dortmund.

Stay tuned for my Tournament Review!

A young BVB fan speaks with the Wrexham Red Dragons goalkeeper