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Germany

Sports authorities urge football club to cut ties with right-wing extremist

A football club in Saxony-Anhalt is under pressure to forbid a right-wing activist from coaching its youth teams. The German Olympic Federation and the regional economics minister have spoken out against the NPD member.

A landscape and the town of Laucha, in Saxony-Anhalt, east Germany

Battke is active for the NPD in the small, idyllic town of Laucha, eastern Germany

The German Olympic Federation (DOSB) has called on a football club in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt to stop a right-wing extremist from coaching children and adolescents. The club refuses to do so.

Lutz Battke sits on a district council for the National Democratic Party (NPD), which is on the far right of the German political spectrum and is generally seen as having close ties with neo-Nazi groups. The 52-year-old also volunteers as a trainer for the youth soccer teams of BSC 99 in the town of Laucha.

The President of the DOSB, Thomas Bach, wrote to the state sports association back in June, urging it to put pressure on the football team to cut ties. Germany's top sporting body has now reiterated that desire. "We have asked the LSB [the state sports association], to take this case on board, and initiate the consequences," DOSB spokesman Christian Klaue said on Saturday.

The state sports association has said that it can do little to force BSC 99 Laucha to end Battke's involvement.

The matter received increased attention after a local Israeli student was attacked in April. The attacker, who used anti-semitic language, was a youth player at the club.

Lose your license

The regional economics minister in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, has added his voice to those of the sports officials. "The club is called upon to sever all ties with Battke immediately," he said.

Haseloff is also trying to revoke Battke's professional licence as a chimney sweep. The state has lodged an appeal against an administrative court ruling which said that his political convictions were not relevant to his work.

"The man can gain entry to homes in which people with migrant backgrounds live," Haseloff told the local Mitteldeutsche Zeitung newspaper. "That would make me feel threatened."

Battke is chairman of the NPD in Laucha. The far-right party has enjoyed a higher degree of election success in Saxony-Anhalt than elsewhere in Germany in recent years, gaining 9.2 percent of the vote in 2004 state elections.

Author: Thomas Sheldrick (dpa, AP)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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