World News

German minister calls for tough response to soccer violence

Soccer Football - Hansa Rostock v Hertha Berlin - DFB Cup First Round - Rostock, Germany - August 14, 2017 Fans around a fire REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s interior minister called for tough measures to crack down on soccer fans who commit violent acts, including stadium bans, after fireworks and fires disrupted a match in the Baltic city of Rostock on Monday.

Thomas de Maiziere, who also serves as sports minister, told the daily Bild that overall violence levels were rising in Germany, as evidenced by clashes that injured hundreds of police officers at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July.

“We are talking about significant criminal acts in some cases,” de Maiziere told the paper. “The justice system must be hard-nosed in this regard.”

One approach could be to have known perpetrators register with police before and after matches, or to impose stadium bans.

Monday’s violence in Rostock erupted after supporters of Berlin’s Hertha BSC, one of the top teams in the country, fired fireworks at fans of third division Hansa Rostock at a match in the Ostsee Stadium in Rostock.

Rostock fans then set fire to a Hertha banner that German media said was likely stolen from the Berlin team’s stadium in 2014, as well as seats.

De Maiziere condemned the violence and said it was a shame that small groups of “violent anarchists” were able to ruin the image of the sport. The teams and their supporters should distance themselves from violent fans, he said.

The Rostock team was fined 100,000 euros in 2007 by the German Soccer Association after fans set fire to the terraces and a flag, with the ensuing violence injured 14 people.

Rostock was also the scene of violent protests the same year in connection with the G8 summit in nearby Heiligendamm.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Angus MacSwan