After much uncertainty, the future of SV Babelsberg 03 is secure. The German football club had been threatened with expulsion after they refused to pay a fine they said was the result of Nazi chants from visiting fans.
Almost a year after an inflammatory clash with Energie Cottbus that sparked a row between SV Babelsberg and their local FA, a compromise deal has been reached that ensures the club will keep its playing license.
The match in question, on April 28 last year, saw several Nazi salutes from the away end as well as chants of "Arbeit macht frei, Babelsberg null drei," a reference to the inscription written above Auschwitz and several other Nazi concentration camps, meaning "work sets you free."
Rockets and flares were also sent in the direction of the home fans while a number of masked Cottbus fans attempted to approach Babelsberg supporters. A home fan was then heard chanting "Nazischweine raus!" — literally: "Nazi pigs out."
However, when the north-eastern regional football association (NOFV) filed a report on the match only the chants from the home fans were included and Babelsberg were fined €7,000 (roughly $8,800) for their supporters' part in the crowd trouble, including their use of pyrotechnics.
The club refused to pay the fine, gaining support from a number of Bundesliga clubs, including Borussia Dortmund and Cologne, and worldwide recognition of the issue through the hashtag #nazisrausausdenstadien (Nazis out of the stadiums). But after the deadline for payment passed without payment, further action, including the potential revoking of the club's license, appeared likely.
But, on Wednesday, Babelsberg issued a statement saying the issue was resolved, with the club obligated to use €3500 to fight racism and pay the other €3500 to the NOFV, who will use it for the same cause. Babelsberg must demonstrate that they have spent the money on the fight against racism by June 30. The compromise agreement came following a meeting between the parties and the Lord Mayor of Potsdam Jann Jakobs.
"We are relieved and are pleased that both parties to the conflict have come together constructively. Discrepancies were resolved and the basis for future fair cooperation was created," said NOFV president Rainer Milkoreit.
The CEO of Babelsberg, Archibald Horlitz said the club hopes the deal will lead to improved action on discrimination.
"Although there are still different judgements on individual legal aspects, we have reached an agreement," his statement read. "This was done against the backdrop of a greater good, namely the increasingly important fight against racism and the clear commitment to tolerance that is visibly and sustainably supported by the NOFV. "
Babelsberg host Cottbus again in the fourth-tier Regionalliga on April 8 but away fans have been banned from attending.