Dortmund football hooligans given chance to work off stadium bans

German football club Borussia Dortmund (BVB) has started a unique new pilot project to “rehabilitate” young hooligans by offering them the chance to do community service and regain their right to enter the stadium as fans.

Dortmund football hooligans given chance to work off stadium bans
Tsk Tsk. Fireworks in the Dortmund stadium. Photo: DPA

The programme, aimed at soccer rowdies under 25, allows participants to shorten the period of their ban.

“Our task is not just scoring points, but also showing social responsibility,” said project leader Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Fighting and setting off fireworks are among the offences that get German fans banned from stadiums for up to three years. Some 3,000 hooligans are currently on the black list for the country’s 18 Bundesliga teams – among them are 200 Dortmund fans.

But the organisation and police noticed that the tactic meant to keep spectators on their best behaviour was actually serving to further alienate hard-core fans known as ultras.

A few months ago, all sides met up for a discussion about the issue.

“We are proud that we brought the ultras and the police to one table,” Watzke said.

Participants came up with the pilot project idea, which is similar to stints in “re-socialisation” programmes doled out to youth offenders by German courts.

“For every month of their stadium ban they work three hours,” said Christian Hockenjos, leader of the BVB commission which handles each case individually.

Particularly severe violations still require offenders to serve out half of their ban before they’re allowed to work off the rest, though.

Both a Dortmund retirement home and a clinic for youth psychiatry have expressed a willingness to take on young fans willing to work.

Project leader Watzke said participants won’t have it easy in the programme, though.

“It’s not enough to just play a few hours of table tennis,” he said.


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British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.