On Saturday, soccer fans in the western German town of Aachen almost experienced what could soon become reality in stadiums: Referee Michael Weiner threatened via loudspeakers to suspend the match between Alemannia Aachen and Borussia Mönchengladbach after fans had called the guest club's Brazilian player Kahe an "asylum seeker." According to news reports, Aachen player Moses Sichone, who comes from Zambia, was also insulted with xenophobic slurs. The German Soccer Federation (DFB) is investigating the case.
"Racism has no place in the stadium," Volker Roth, the head of the DFB's referee comittee, told German news service DPA. "That's why we have told referees to not tolerate such slurs."
The incident came only a week after spectators in the northeastern town of Rostock had made monkey noises that were directed at Ghanaian-born German national soccer player Gerald Asamoah of FC Schalke 04.
As a result, the German Soccer Federation (DFB) fined Hansa Rostock soccer club 20,000 euros ($25,400) -- the highest penalty ever imposed because of racism in soccer, according to reports. The soccer club's reserve team will also have to play a match without an audience as punishment.
DFB officials welcomed the ruling.
"It's an impertinence to hurt this person simply because of the color of his skin," said Theo Zwanziger, the organization's president, adding that clubs had to be held responsible for their fans behavior.
"The clubs are complicit," he told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper. "They can no longer excuse themselves by saying that a few trouble makers are responsible for right-wing extremist and racist incidents. They're responsible and have to live with the consequences -- including the loss of points."
Hurting the right people
As a result of the incident in Rostock, DFB officials said that they want to clamp down on "discriminating and inhuman behavior" according to the rules laid down by world soccer body FIFA. The rules call for fines for officials and players and clubs can lose points because of their fans' behavior and be excluded from competition.
Despite the problems, Zwanziger said that he did not support cancelling an Oct. 7 match between Germany and Georgia in Rostock.
"Honestly, I did think about it for a couple of seconds," Zwanziger told Leipziger Volkszeitung on Monday. "But you also have to consider who you hurt with such a decision. We would have hurt many who have nothing to do with right-wing extremism."