Police union demands football summit on hooligan violence

The GdP police union on Tuesday demanded a “football summit” in light of escalating violence by hooligans that has been pushing German police forces to their breaking point.

Police union demands football summit on hooligan violence
Photo: DPA

Jörg Rades, a GdP board member, called on the German Football Association, national railway operator Deutsche Bahn, and fan groups to come together to stop such violence from further escalation.

He said hooligan violence was on the rise following the creation of the new third division Bundesliga, which set up sporting clashes among several clubs with long traditions and often fanatic supporters.

“The authorities always have to assume there will be horrific riots caused by rival hooligans for numerous fixtures,” Rades said.

But questionable fan behaviour isn’t limited to Germany’s lower divisions.

Dietmar Hopp, the backer of newly-promoted Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, said Tuesday he will press charges against a Borussia Dortmund fan arrested for displaying a banner threatening to kill him.

A teenage Dortmund supporter was arrested for holding up a poster showing Hopp’s face in a crosshair under the message “Hasta La Vista Hopp!” at the Carl-Benz Stadium on Sunday before Hoffenheim’s 4-1 home win over Dortmund. German tabloid Bild reported the fan also hurled the insult “son of a whore” at Hopp.

Police arrested a 19-year-old man from Halbstadt in the central German state of Saxony-Anhalt before kick-off.

“We will press charges,” Hopp, a multi-millionaire, told Bild. “A murder threat is not anything to be taken lightly. This is not something you can ignore and it is important to send out a clear signal that a line has been crossed.”

Hopp’s lawyer is looking into whether to also launch civil prosecution against the teenager.

Dortmund bosses have apologized to Hopp. “What happened was embarrassing, shameful and unbecoming,” Dortmund’s managing director Hans Joachim Watzke said.

But it’s not the first time fans have attacked Hopp, who was insulted by Borussia Mönchengladbach fans on the second weekend of the season. The multi-millionaire knows fans don’t care for the money he has pumped into Hoffenheim and he rarely goes to away games.

The SAP entrepreneur became Hoffenheim’s chief backer when they were in the eighth league of German football and fulfilled his dream for them to reach the Bundesliga when they won promotion last season.

For members


EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.