Hertha Berlin: Is protest bad for football?

The Bundesliga side brought upon itself plenty of publicity with their actions, but it's not their football that had people taking note.

Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin made headlines on Saturday when, prior to their clash with Schalke, the club from Germany’s capital took a knee and locked arms. Berlin’s largest club became the first recognised association football side to take the knee as the fight for social justice continues.  

On the field, though, Hertha sunk to their first home defeat against their opponents from Gelsenkirchen. Here’s how things unfolded at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin as we ask whether or not Hertha should be worrying more about their form on the pitch.

As it Happened

The choice from Hertha Berlin players to take the knee was preceded by the stadium announcer informing the fans why the club made the decision to kneel.

Berlin is colorful, Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against Violence.

For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination.

For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore.

Once the match got underway, Hertha Berlin produced a gutless display. Just before halftime, Berlin would go down to ten-men when Genki Haraguchi chopped down Guido Burgstaller. 

Shortly after, Schalke took the lead from the penalty spot as Amine Harit was brought down in the area by Vladimír Darida. Leon Goretzka converted, despite the fact that Rune Jarstein got his hand to it. Burgstaller would seal the points for Schalke 10 minutes from time, condemning Hertha to their third defeat of the season.

Good Protest, Bad Football?

Regardless of the position that you take on the place of protest in football, any protest takes place within the broader context of the match itself. In their game against Schalke, Hertha had only two shots on goals in 90 minutes of football. Questions, then, must be raised about whether the protest detracted from football itself.

Throughout the game, the Hertha players seemed distracted by the protest and it showed in their spineless performance. The club have only managed two wins this season, both coming at home to Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart. For Hertha Berlin fans, whether or not they appreciate the protest their team made, there will be a general dissatisfaction with the way the players conducted themselves as footballers.

Hertha are in trouble

Since Pál Dárdai took over as manager of Hertha Berlin, there have been three statistics that stand out and which should cause alarm bells to ring. Usually, Berlin are fast starters, sitting in 4th and 3rd respectively after 8 games in the last two seasons. This season they sit in 13th place after the same number of fixures. 

Hertha Berlin are also a side reliant on their home form in the league. In the 2015/16 season, Hertha took 32 of their 50 points at home. Last season, 37 of their 49 points came from the Olympiastadion. Under Dardai this season, Hertha have 8 of their 9 points coming from home. If they start dropping points at home, then, the club could be in deep trouble. 

Where Hertha come quickly out of the blocks, they also have a tendency to stumble over the finish line. In the 2015/16 season, Berlin took just two points in their last seven games, a run of form which saw Hertha tumble out of the top 3 and into 7th place, failing to qualify for the Europa League. Last season, Berlin lost seven of their last ten matches, including a 6-2 lose on the final match of the season at home to Bayer Leverkusen. If this season starts badly, then the Berlin club may not have enough of a buffer to survive at the end of the season.

The writing is already on the wall for Hertha Berlin who are having their worst start since Pál Dárdai took charge. Once again, they are relying on their home form to carry their season. Given the fact they are notoriously bad towards the end of the season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hertha end up in a battle to avoid the drop zone when the end of the season arrive. Perhaps it's time, then, that Hertha Berlin focussed on what's going on the pitch rather than off it?

What did you think of Hertha Berlin taking the knee? Do you like the gesture or are you against it? Let us know in the comments section below

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Matthew Karagich

Matthew is currently partaking in a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) at the University of South Australia and has been a RealSport’s writer since December of 2016

He is an all round sports fan but predominately devotes his fandom to German football where he’s a passionate Schalke 04 supporter

Matthew also applies his trade as a goalkeeper for the Rostrevor Old Collegians Soccer Club in Adelaide’s Collegiate Soccer League