The first division relegation match against Berlin’s Hertha BSC still had more than a minute of extra time to go at Fortuna Düsseldorf’s stadium when fans streamed onto the field – and the terrified players left for more than 20 minutes.
It emerged on Wednesday that the Hertha players only returned to the field following a police request that they do so in order to prevent more violence, according to Hertha’s lawyer Christoph Schickhardt.
“The referee did not get the team back on the field because of the football game, but the police asked [the team to return] to prevent an escalation. They were talking about a blood bath, Schickhardt told a morning news show on German public television ARD/ZDF on Wednesday.
“Yesterday it was about preventing something worse from happening to German football,” the lawyer said.
Hertha’s players were scared to death of the Düsseldorf fans, finding themselves “unprotected in a mob” Schickhardt said.
In the end, Hertha tied Düsseldorf 2-2, but because Düsseldorf had won a previous match in Berlin, it moves up to the Bundesliga and Hertha, after just one season of play in the top league, are relegated to the second league.
Hertha is considering filing a protest of Tuesday’s game, Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel said on Wednesday.
Some 750 disappointed Hertha fans were stopped for three hours in Hamm on their way back to Berlin after fans smashed many of the train’s windows. One of the 11 train cars had to be detached and replaced for safety reasons, according to a police spokesman in Münster.
Tuesday’s disruption in Düsseldorf followed violence on Monday in Karlsruhe after Karlsruhe SC lost to SSV Jahn Regensburg, and was relegated from the second to the third Bundesliga. Despite a hefty police presence, 76 people were injured, including 18 members of the police, according to Südwestrundfunk. Some 110 people were arrested.
Karlsruhe fans fought with their Regensburg supporters and many fireworks were set off in the stadium. The brawls spilled out into the streets and lasted until three in the morning, when police finally had the situation under control.
Other relegated teams include Cologne and Kaiserslautern. Greuther Fürth and Eintracht Frankfurt have already secured promotion from the second into the first league.
German newspapers were full of disdain for how fans conducted themselves in the two games, while several Düsseldorf players told German television that they were shocked by the fans’ reaction and unhappy that their move up to the first league was accompanied by such a fan response.
German and British fans will meet this Saturday, when Bayern Munich meets Chelsea in Munich for the Champions League final.