Police union demands football summit on hooligan violence

Police union demands football summit on hooligan violence
Photo: DPA
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.

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.