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Sports

Opinion: These guys are ruining football

The perpertrators of the attack in Hanover on matchday 24 must be dealt with by the criminal justice system, writes DW's Stefan Nestler. The problem can't be solved from within.

Two images dominated matchday 24 and they could hardly be more different from one another.

On the one hand, all eyes were on Uli Hoeness, who, with his Bayern Munich scarf wrapped around his neck, took his place in the VIP seats at the Allianz Arena for the first time since his early release from prison.

It was almost as if his 21 months behind bars for having evaded millions of euros in taxes had never happened. "Uli, you are the best," is how the fans greeted him, leaving no doubt about who they want to see running the club again. This doesn't merit comment, at least not yet.

What also doesn't merit comment is the fact that, under the watchful eyes of Hoeness, Mainz surprised Bayern by handing them only their second Bundesliga defeat of the season. This has led some, probably prematurely, to speak of the race for the league title having been blown wide open again.

Someone could have been killed

Nestler Stefan Kommentarbild App

DW editor Stefan Nestler

What does merit comment though is the other image from matchday 24 that will linger in our memories. Before the northern-German derby between hosts Hannover and Wolfsburg, visiting supporters set off Bengal flares and one of them flew just under the roof of the Hannover dugout.

It seems almost miraculous that the only damage done was to the trousers of the team doctor, which were scorched. Bengal flares can reach temperatures of 2,500 degrees Celcius (4,532 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, they can cause serious and even fatal injuries.

Criminal act

The damage these things can do is no secret. Even the biggest nimrod should have figured this out by now. If you wanted to be lenient, you could write off people who light Bengal fires as simply dense slobs. However, if someone fires them towards another human beings, they are a criminal; it is as simple as that. So these people should be prosecuted and punished. It is intolerable that these incorrigible people still think stadiums are places where they can do anything they want and go unpunished, blending into the anonymity of the crowd.

Not so bad?

The incident in Hanover has served to shine a bright light on the so-called "ultras" scene. Such groups, no matter which club they support, always speak with one voice when it comes to condemning sanctions from the German FA or measures aimed at preventing violence in the stadiums. But when something like what happened in the northern German derby happens, suddenly they are all silent, as if to say: "It wasn't all that bad." But it is. These guys are ruining football.

No solution from within

"We don't usually tend to get this from our fans," Wolfsburg's sporting director, Klaus Allofs, said following the match. He is correct only to the extent that these perpetrators don't deserve to be called "fans." For the record, this isn't the first time that Bengal flares have been fired from the Wolfsburg bloc during a derby match. A day later, the club announced that it would take action against the perpetrators, but didn't specify what. Nobody really believes anymore that football can solve these problems from within.

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