Police investigate Sancho incident amid fan trouble in Dortmund

German police are investigating an incident in which England international Jadon Sancho was struck by what appeared to be a cigarette lighter thrown from the away block during Borussia Dortmund's 4-2 defeat to local rivals Schalke on Saturday.

Police investigate Sancho incident amid fan trouble in Dortmund
Jadon Sancho after being hit by a fan's lighter. Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP
A number of arrests were made amid trouble from both sets of fans, during a tense day on which Schalke dealt a severe blow to their rivals' Bundesliga title bid. 
TV footage showed Sancho, 19, being hit by a projectile as he celebrated Dortmund's opening goal with teammates just in front of the Schalke fan section. He was briefly taken off the pitch for treatment, but returned to play the rest of the game. 
In a statement on Saturday, police said they had opened criminal proceedings on the basis of aggravated battery. 
The Ruhr derby is generally subjected to a high level of security, with hundreds of police officers deployed to keep opposing fan groups separated both at the game and on their way to and from the stadium. 
Saturday's game in Dortmund was nonetheless overshadowed by a handful of ugly incidents, involving what police called an “unteachable and violent minority” of fans. 
Before the game, a group of Schalke fans attempted to storm the turnstiles, leading to delays in security checks. At full time a group of Dortmund fans attempted to break their way into the away block, but were beaten back by officers. The police also confirmed the use of pepper spray in a confrontation at a local metro station. 
In total, police confirmed they had taken 13 people into custody and filed charges against 36 people, both for assault and breaches of the Explosives Act. 
The police statement said that the use of flares in the home block towards the end of the game had left six people injured, two of which were hospitalised. Schalke fans also set off flares at kick-off, unleashing a cloud of blue smoke across the field. 
They later held up a tasteless banner demanding the release of Sergei Wenergold, the man who was jailed for attempted murder after a bomb attack on the Dortmund team bus in 2017. 
Former Dortmund player Marc Bartra, who was injured in the 2017 attack, condemned the banner on Twitter, saying that it was “unacceptable” and “sad”.  
“Rivalry in football is one thing, it is quite another to demand freedom for someone who played with the lives of 28 people,” wrote the Spanish defender, who now plays in Seville for Real Betis.
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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.