By John Bagratuni, dpa
Berlin (dpa) – German football fans have been making a strong stand against racism and discrimination over the past days.
Last weekend, Preussen Muenster fans chanted “Nazis out” and helped police identify and arrest a man who had racially abused player Leroy Kwadwo from opposing team Wuerzburg.
On Thursday, Eintracht Frankfurt fans started “Nazis out” chants when some fans ahead of the Europa League match against RB Salzburg disrupted a minute’s silence for the victims of the Hanau attack the previous day in which a 43-year-old German is believed to have shot dead nine people with foreign roots in a suspected racist
And on Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach fans voiced their discontent with whistles and “ultras out” chants after a placard targeting Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp and the German football federation DFB was shown by some fans during the teams’ Bundesliga match.
Gladbach sports director Max Eberl apologised to Hoffenheim and Hopp as he spoke of “around 50 stupid people who have caused huge damage” while praising the reaction from the other fans.
“I thought it was nice how the rest of the stadium, like 99 percent of the stadium visitors, reacted. It is important that we all stand up against it,” Eberl said in a club statement.
The placard referred to the DFB imposing a two-year ban from attending matches in Hoffenheim on Borussia Dortmund fans for discriminating banners and placards directed at Hopp in the past.
SAP co-founder Hopp is unpopular among some diehards as the main sponsor and owner of Hoffenheim.
Referee Felix Brych interrupted the match which didn’t restart until the placard was removed, a move for which he was praised by DFB vice-president Rainer Koch on Sunday.
“There is no legal vacuum in the stadium curves. Felix Brych acted just right and made it clear that football cannot be played as such a placard is hanging,” Koch said on Facebook.
Hoffenheim coach also praised the reaction of Gladbach fans, officials and players but also insisted they would have stopped playing if the placard hadn’t been removed.
Eberl expressed hope that other fans can help identify those, saying “we have seen in Muenster that it is possible.”
Germany defender Antonio Ruediger from English club Chelsea meanwhile criticised to Sky TV on Saturday after several incidents in various European leagues that “racism has won” because “these people are going to the stadium again.”
Looking at Germany, which ahead of the latest incidents also saw Hertha Berlin player Jordan Torunarigha racially abused during a cup match at Schalke, Ruediger named the Hanau killings “the ende-product.”
“First Torunarigha, then Kwadwo, then there are deaths,” Ruediger said.
A minute’s silence for the Hanu victims was observed ahead of all weekend Bundesliga matches.
In Freiburg fans from the hosts and visiting Dusseldorf chanted “Nazis out” and Freiburg fans displayed a banner saying “Racism kills! All against racism.”