Protests from Hamburg fans delayed the end of their season finale in some chaotic scenes, but they could not halt the Bundesliga club from suffering relegation for the first time in their history.
Hamburg have played in the top flight since the league was founded in 1963, but despite defeating Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1, they were doomed when Wolfsburg beat already-relegated Cologne 4-1 elsewhere.
Hamburg were still playing when the Wolfsburg game reached full-time, and fans at the Volksparkstadion set off flares, throwing some on the pitch and sending a huge cloud of black smoke over one side of the stadium.
The game, which finally completed after a 16-minute delay, ended with lines of police on the pitch.
Most fans reacted with anger to the disturbances, chanting “We are the people of Hamburg and you’re not!” and “Get them out!”
— Murray Wilson (@MurrayEW) May 12, 2018
Some Hamburg players broke down and cried after referee Felix Brych finally ended the game after a long hold up due to the disturbances.
“It was just a few who have no business in a stadium,” said Christian Titz, Hamburg’s third coach of the season. Titz reinvigorated the side over his eight games in charge.
Hamburg have flirted with relegation in recent seasons, but could not avoid it this campaign, ending up two points behind Wolfsburg for the relegation playoff place.
“We experienced miracles in the last years but miracles don’t go on forever,” Hamburg legend Uwe Seeler said.
The result will likely lead a number of players to search for new clubs this offseason, including United States striker Bobby Wood, who was sent off in the 71st minute on Saturday and has been linked with a move to MLS this summer.
Wolfsburg will play Holstein Kiel, who finished third in the second division, in a two-legged playoff to determine which side plays in the top flight next season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.