Hamburg, the German port city that is home to the St. Pauli Football Club, hosts a sports team well known for its outspoken anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic politics and its staunchly progressive activism. Founded in 1910, the Club is located in the working-class district along the docks near the Reeperbahn red-light district. For the past 30 years, the team has maintained a certain cult following across Europe, initially attracting radicals, squatters, dockers, and prostitutes in the 1980s, and later, anarchists, punks, bikers, anti-fascists, and other politicized groups. You can read more at When Punk and Football Collide, Punks, prostitutes and St. Pauli: Inside soccer’s coolest club, and Hamburg, Germany: Football fans say ‘Love St Pauli, Hate Racism’.
Known as the “pirates of the league,” the St. Pauli Club has adopted a number of shipyard-related visual icons, including the Jolly Roger flag’s skull and crossbones, which is the team’s logo and seen everywhere, as well as anchors, galleons, and sword brandishing buccaneers.
St. Pauli was the first team in Germany to ban right-wing activities and displays at their stadium, in response to hooligan fascists and neo-Nazis in the 1980s and ‘90s that were infiltrating matches across the country, fighting rival teams and police, and causing a great deal of violence and damage. The sticker “St. Pauli-fans gegen Rechts!” or “St. Pauli fans against right extremism!” has been widely produced and distributed and by now is said to have sold over two million copies. There is even a Facebook page for Sankt Pauli Fans gegen Rechts.
Ultras named on stickers refer to extreme football fan clubs and can lean both left and right. Several St. Pauli fan clubs have been formed in the last 20 years, including the Sankt Pauli Skinheads in 1996 and the St. Pauli Ultras in 2002. In these cases, skinheads, punks, and other alternative sub-groups are self-defined anti-fascists. You can get a good sense of the raucous nature of a St. Pauli game at The accidental ultra – St Pauli away (“away” meaning “visitor” to the Brit author).
The revolutionary guerrilla leader Che Guevera is represented on many St. Pauli stickers, as are other iconic figures, including the American actor John Goodman with a handgun from the movie The Big Lebowski and Yoda the Jedi Master from Star Wars.
Other football related stickers in this series include A.C.A.B. (or 1312), which stands for “all cops are bastards.”
Arline Wolfe at SLU recently catalogued over 100 St. Pauli stickers and added them to the Street Art Graphics digital archive (click on “sports”), or you can view the uncatalogued stickers on my Flickr site here.