Union (or formally 1. FC Union Berlin) is a German football team playing in Bundesliga. Union were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in 2019, defeating VfB Stuttgart in the play-offs, after a decade playing in the second tier. During the Cold War era, Union was an East German club but have slowly developed since reunification.
Union’s history dates back to 1906 as FC Olympia 06 Oberschöneweide, based in one of Berlin’s factory suburbs, which has had numerous incarnations over the years. The club was relatively successful in the first few decades of the 20th century, including winning the 1923 German Championship, but fell away following the re-organisation of football during the Third Reich.
Following World War II, the club splintered across Berlin but eventually restarted as 1. FC Union Berlin in 1966 in East Germany. Union were up and down between the top two divisions over the next few decades, but did win the East German Cup in 1968.
Union almost collapsed financially after Germany’s reunification, causing them to miss out on promotion to the 2.Bundesliga on two occasions in the 1990s. The club enjoyed a fruitful period under Georgi Vasilev, moving up divisions and they even reached the DFB-Pokal final in 2001 despite being a third tier club, which they lost 2-0 to Schalke 04, but qualified for the UEFA Cup.
Union enjoyed three seasons in the 2.Bundesliga from 2001 to 2004, but dropped down divisions, before eventually returning to the second division where they spent 10 years from 2009. The club earned promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time via the playoffs in the 2018-19 season after finishing third under Urs Fischer.
Despite Union’s relatively modest history of success, the club has developed ‘cult’ status, given its location in the German capital, unique home stadium (which translates in English to the Stadium at the Old Forresters’ Lodge) and Eisern Union (Iron Union) supporters based on their ‘metalworkers’ history.
German Runners-up: 1923
DDR-Liga A (East German second division) Winners: 1985, 1991, Runners-up: 1990
3.Liga (German third division) Winners: 2009
DFB-Pokal Runners-up: 2001
FDGB-Pokal (East German Cup) Winners: 1968, Runners-up: 1986