German football marred by weekend of fan violence

2015-11-23 09:03
Pep Guardiola (AFP)

Berlin - Several violent incidents involving rival fans showed German soccer's dark side this weekend despite increased security measures following the Paris terrorist attacks.

Gelsenkirchen police said Sunday they made 196 arrests at Schalke vs. Bayern Munich in the worst of the violence on Saturday night. More ugly scenes took place in Moenchengladbach and Hannover, and at a third-division game when Magdeburg fans stormed the pitch and fought with stewards at SG Sonnenhof Grossaspach.

"Unfortunately we have to conclude on the basis of yesterday's events that a few of our fans are not yet fit for the third division," Magdeburg said in an open letter on Sunday.

Security had been tight everywhere after Germany's friendly with the Netherlands in Hannover on Tuesday was called off due to an alleged threat to set off explosive devices at the stadium.

Police blamed Bayern and Bochum fans for the violence in Gelsenkirchen. Bochum is a rival of Schalke, though the clubs play in different divisions. Police said there was an "extremely violent attack" outside the stadium in what they described as a joint action between Bayern and Bochum supporters that left "many people injured, some seriously," adding that "only a swift and consequent intervention by police forces prevented worse."

Amateur video footage showed men, some wearing scarves to conceal their identities, punching and kicking in various brawls, and others running in - including Schalke fans - to kick individuals while they were on the ground.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the club distanced itself "in every form from these so-called supporters of our club" and that "violence cannot and should not ever be tolerated. It's absolutely inexplicable to me and to all of us how someone, especially now after the terrible events in Paris, can be so lacking in respect for society and football."

Rummenigge apologized to Schalke and the victims on Saturday night.

Bochum said it would do everything it could to identify the perpetrators.

"It if transpires that so-called Bochum fans - in our opinion they are not because they harm the club and its prestige massively - were among the culprits, the club will initiate legal proceedings and take appropriate action without delay," it said in a statement.

Moenchengladbach police said there were fan disturbances between Hannover and Borussia Moenchengladbach supporters at a local train station in the city, and reported more fights between fans on a regional train from Duesseldorf. The emergency brake was pulled in the main train station where Hannover fans jumped out, police said in a statement, adding that there were further brawls between fans at the station itself.

Altogether police said they identified 238 people, including 28 alleged hooligans who the police said had caused trouble in the past. They were all brought back to Hannover and charges of criminal damage and assault were being prepared.

Hannover defended its fans Sunday, saying it was "relieved that no Hannover fan was injured in the attack."

In a statement, the club added, "The subsequent police measures had the consequence that 200 fans could not travel to the game and loudly support our team. The behavior during the police action was friendly and exemplary throughout. Even telling the fans they could no longer travel to the game on this day did not lead to any aggressive behavior."

Also, Werder Bremen fans were blamed for trashing trains in Hannover on their way home from Wolfsburg, causing delays to services in the area.

Police used pepper spray and batons to break up disturbances caused by an initial group of around 80 fans, before other Bremen supporters joined in.

Police union chairman Joerg Radek called for better protection for officers.

"Politicians have to finally set a sign (that) whoever attacks police officers will be jailed in every case," Radek said. "My colleagues, who are working around the clock to protect citizens from terrorists, are the target of football fans and left-extremists. That's no longer acceptable."

The union said police officers had been targeted by counter-demonstrators at the NPD party's political convention in Weinheim, near Frankfurt.

Read more on:    germany  |  bundesliga  |  soccer

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