Cologne, Dortmund call for action over ultras theat | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 07.08.2017
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Cologne, Dortmund call for action over ultras theat

Amid concerns that the upcoming Bundesliga season could see an upsurge in violence from hardcore fans, two teams have called for action from the league. They say clubs cannot get to grips with the problem themselves.

The "declaration of war" by ultras on the DFB must be taken very seriously, according to Jörg Schmadtke, the sporting director of Cologne.

Speaking at a conference in Düsseldorf on Monday, Schmadtke was referring to a slogan that was unfurled at a number of games last season, including by Dortmund ultras in the German Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of May.

A rapper who is also a Dortmund fan has also released a music video called "Krieg dem DFB," (war on the DFB). The video has been viewed more than 370,000 times on YouTube and generated more than 9,500 likes. A Google search of the German phrase shows that t-shirts, stickers and buttons printed with the phrase are readily available on the internet.

Schmadtke warned that "ultra groups are being formed across the country and will need to find answers. But we, the clubs, won't be able to do so, on our own. The DFB and the DFL need to get on board," he said.

'Ultra scene is closing ranks'

Schmadtke's words echoed those of the chairman of Borussia Dortmund, Hans-Joachim Watzke, who was quoted in Monday's edition of Bild as saying that "the ultra scene is closing ranks more strongly." He also said that this posed a challenge to "the boards of the associations, the DFB and DFL, but also those of us who are in positions of responsibility at the clubs."

The DFB responded to the banner and the use of fireworks during May's Cup final by imposing a 90,000-euro fine ($106,000) on Borussia Dortmund and requiring all of its supporters groups to obtain written permission from the club before organizing any choreography in the stadium.  

NRW Dortmund Signal Iduna Park Stadium (picture alliance/dpa/I. Fassbender)

The entire Südtribüne at Borussia Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park was closed last year after fan trouble

Schmadtke also appeared to criticize this and other decisions handed down by the DFB for fan trouble in recent years, saying that "the way the DFB is doing things at the moment, with sanctions that are so severe, we won't stop the cycle, it will more likely give it momentum and harden positions."

Schmadtke also called for open-ended discussions between the clubs, the DFB and DFL on how best to tackle the issue.

'Increasingly concerned'

Watzke said Borussia Dortmund was open to discussions with any and all fan groups, but said when they resorted to violence, there could be no dialogue. Watzke and Schmadtke aren't the only football officials growing increasingly concerned by recent developments.

Speaking to the German daily Die Welt last month, the presiding judge of the DFB's sports court, Hans Eberhard Lorenz, said the rhetoric against Germany's FA had take on a "new quality" and that the phrase "war on the DFB" was "in no way acceptable".

On Saturday, DFB President Reinhard Grindel was quoted by Bild as saying that the word "war" had no place in the same sentence as the word football. But he also appeared to acknowledge the frustration of some fan groups, who have complained that they have been collectively punished by the DFB for the actions of a few. The most notable case may have been when Borussia Dortmund's entire south stand was ordered to stay empty for on home match last year.

"We still have to consider how we can ensure that the sanctions we meet out affect those that are actually responsibly for acts of violence," he said.

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