At a cup match on Monday between Hertha BSC, one of the top team’s in the country, and third division minnows Hansa Rostock, the referee had to suspend play twice due to fan violence.
Members of Hertha’s 2,000 strong travelling support repeatedly fired fireworks at Hansa fans during the match at the Ostsee Stadium in Rostock.
The Rostock fans responded by revealing a Hertha banner which they had managed to steal from the Berlin club. The banner was possibly the legendary 30-metre long Ostkurve banner, which was stolen from Hertha’s Olympic Stadium in 2014, according to Tagesspiegel.
The provocation led to a renewed firework barrage from the ranks of the Berlin fans. But Hansa had their own counter-attack ready. They set fire to the Berlin banner, while some fans also burned the seats in their own stand.
Referee Robert Hartmann first suspended play for two minutes, then called the players off the pitch for a further 18 minutes, as smoke from the stands sank like a fog onto the playing field.
“We had fought for a heroic 0-0 draw for 74 minutes. Then 20 to 50 complete morons thought it was more important to burn down their own living room, the Hansa stadium, than to support their team,” Robert Marien, the CEO of Hansa said after the match.
Hertha’s hierarchy also condemned the violence.
“No one wants to see that kind of behaviour in a football stadium,” said Hertha boss Michael Preetz, after his side eventually struggled to a 2-0 victory.
Hansa have recently had fans banned from attending two away matches due to disruptions in their stands.
But both clubs claimed that they had little chance of changing the behaviour of fans.
“Please show me the person who can change how the fans behave. It simply isn’t possible,” Preetz bemoaned.
Fan violence has become an issue of renewed concern in Germany over recent months after several high profile incidents at matches in the Bundesliga (first division).
In February fans of Borussia Dortmund attacked opposition supporters and police with stones before a match against RB Leipzig.
Fans of Leipzig reported that Dortmund fans attacked and beat them as they got out of the buses, before stealing their tickets.
A total of ten people were injured in the violence, six of whom were Leipzig fans. The other four were police officers.
Inside the stadium, meanwhile, the south stand was filled with banners with messages such as “slaughter the cops” and “paving stones against cops”.