• Germany's news in English

Croatians outnumber Germans but party remains peaceful

AFP · 12 Jun 2008, 17:31

Published: 12 Jun 2008 17:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Trains arriving at the main station poured out waves of fans in the unmistakable red and white checks of Croatia chanting and blaring music, as groups of police looked on.

"We will win!" said Neno Cvetkovic from Osijek in eastern Croatia, just stepping off the train from Vienna with his two brothers, Croatian scarves and a flag hanging off his rucksack.

In town too, the streets were filled with dancing, singing and drinking Croatians, their rivals more than outnumbered.

"It's a peaceful party," said a German police officer with a smile, watching the partying fans. A few loud blasts in an isolated side street turned out to be just


Elsewhere, a group of Croatians refused to retaliate when a drunken German fan punched one of them, gently carrying him out of the crowd instead.

"It wasn't necessary to have all this police here. The media blew everything out of proportion," one cafe owner could be heard telling his customers. It's just a game, one team beats the other, that's it."

Some 2,500 police, including 400 Germans and 31 Croatians, were mobilised on Thursday in Klagenfurt to prevent any trouble.

Meanwhile, local residents continued to stay away from the city centre following media reports of fan violence and despite calls by local politicians to join in the celebrations.

"I think the Austrians are hiding," said Matej Zenz, 17. "The media reported a lot on Croatian and German fans and how dangerous it would be... I think it was all unnecessary panic," he said.

While the majority of the crowd had come for the football, Zenz and a few other youngsters held up banners pushing for more recognition of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia province.

"The Euro seemed like a good opportunity to get noticed," he said.

Fans turned out in the streets in even bigger numbers than Sunday when some 60,000 Poles and Germans descended on the sleepy south Austrian town for their

countries' first group stage match. But where rival fans met, good humour prevailed.

"We're looking forward to a great game, we hope we will win but it's ok if Croatia wins too," said Thomas Isermann, who traveled from Munich with 14 friends to see the game and "bring a little of the mood from the World Cup in Germany, to Austria."

That German fans were a minority in the crowd did not seem to bother him, as he shouldered an inflatable black German eagle, which he said was a statement.

"The message is have fun, peace, and football has the power to change the world," he said with a laugh.

Another German fan found the solution to inter-fan conflict. Faced with Croatian fans chanting "Deutschland, Deutschland, Auf Wiedersehen" (Germany, Germany, Goodbye), he encouraged his opponents to sing "Polska, Polska, Auf Wiedersehen," with him instead.

Germany and Croatia currently lead group B, ahead of Poland and Austria. Marko, from Senj in central Croatia, also insisted there would be no violence during or after the match.

"Do you see these people? It's all peaceful, people are coming together," he said. "Between Germans and Poles, maybe (there could be violence) but between Germans and Croats, we're friends, there's no reason for violence."

Story continues below…

Some 28,000 Croatian fans and 5,000 Germans were expected for the game, including a number of violent supporters from both countries, according to Carinthia province police chief Wolfgang Rauchegger. Several people had already been turned back at the border since Wednesday, he added.

Klagenfurt police spokesman Gottlieb Tuerk told AFP the police had received "information about risk fans that we're analysing and evaluating. We're focusing on prevention," he added, noting however that "there is nothing to suggest there will be rioting."

At least 398 Croatian fans have been barred from entering Switzerland and Austria during the Euro.

On Thursday, five special trains as well as 50 Croatian and 65 German buses were expected to arrive in the south Austrian town. With Germany on the other side of the border and Zagreb just about 200 kilometres (124 miles) away, many also opted to drive to Klagenfurt.

On Sunday, 157 mostly German fans were arrested during the Germany v Poland game, but the much-dreaded violence otherwise failed to materialise.

On Wednesday, some 80 fans were arrested in Switzerland following violent incidents after the Switzerland v Turkey match, which saw the co-hosts eliminated from the tournament.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd