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Clashes between fan groups threaten to undermine RB Leipzig's 'family friendly' reputation

The Red Bull-backed club's image is on the line after two fans were allegedly attacked by fellow RB Leipzig supporters in a "politically motivated" incident. The CEO has promised to crack down on fans who "don’t behave".

RB Leipzig have been making headlines in Germany since securing their promotion to the Bundesliga in the 2015/16 season. Their vibrant style of play and run to second spot in the table has been celebrated but their association with energy drink giant Red Bull makes them the cause of nationwide fan protests.

The club takes pride in having what chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff calls "a family friendly" atmosphere at the Red Bull Arena, with many supporters proud to bring children to games without the fear of violence. 

But a recent incident involving two of the club's fan groups has put RB Leipzig in the limelight once again, but for very different reasons.

Deutschland Bayer Leverkusen - RB Leipzig (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Becker)

RB Leipzig. A family friendly club?

Fans attacked

Following the win against Hannover, two fans were injured after media reports said they were attacked by other supporters of the Leipzig team. The victims were part of an RB Leipzig fan group that calls itself "Red Aces" while the attackers allegedly belonged to another RB fan group called "L.E. United".

It was not the first incident involving the two fan groups. Red Aces say that a couple of their members were previously approached because they were wearing shirts in support of refugees. They believe the latest attack was "politically motivated". 

L.E. United, a group formed after the club's fans were attacked in Dortmund last season, are recognized in the stands by their bucket hats and black clothes.

According to a SPIEGEL report, many members of L.E. United have shown support for far-right political parties such as the AfD, NPD and others, while the left leaning "Red Aces" were previously against the anti-Islamist PEGIDA movement. The group took to its Facebook page to deny those allegations. "Our group is completely apolitical… We do not tolerate extremist or subversive behavior, regardless of from which political side it comes from," the organization said.

Mateschitz's right-wing views

Mintzlaff told BILD the club was ready to act.

Deutschland Oliver Mintzlaff RB Leipzig (picture alliance/dpa/H. Schmidt)

RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff

"We will impose sanctions against those who don't behave themselves," he said, adding that RB Leipzig's fan scene is something "many clubs envy us for… We want to attract more young fans." 

It's also worth noting that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has previously espoused right-wing views in public.

In an interview with Austria's Kleine Zeitung, Mateschitz voiced his support for US President Donald Trump, as well as outlining his objection to multiculturalism. 

Leipzig's "family friendly" image might not last forever.

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