Over the weekend, I avoided the social media as well as I could, in order to watch the 1. FC Köln match without knowing the result beforehand.
Same with Sportschau. I always enjoy it more if I don’t know outcomes.
Hence, I watched the game, enjoyed the hell out of how it ended, and maybe posted a tweet or two about it quickly before moving on to ignoring any and all news about the Bundesliga.
Imagine my surprise when I return to cruising the #effzeh twitter hashtag and see all sorts of mentions of police detention of Köln fans before, during, and after the match in Karlsruhe.
The account I saw being posted most-frequently was that of Sarah Peters, a 29-year-old journalist who also happens to be an “FC-member and enthusiastic stadium-goer.”
Ms. Peters asserts that, despite a good atmosphere among train passengers arriving in Karlsruhe and an utter lack of aggression among the FC-fans, police had arrived at the train station to detain the arriving visiting fans. She notes that some had swollen eyes, perhaps indicative of having been on the wrong end of the use of pepper spray.
She continues to say that once she managed to get to the stadium, she came across many fans who were going to stay outside the stadium rather than enter the match as a sign of solidarity with the first groups who arrived and boarded buses that took them directly to the police station instead of Wildparkstadion for the game.
It seems the concept of “pre-emptive measures” was used to justify the detention of 60 “ultras,” before the match even began, somehow based on the damaging of a bus door. How you blame 60 people for one door being damaged, I’m not sure, but those 60 people who took the six-hour train ride never even caught a glimpse of the stadium, apparently.
Further, the “normal” fans (i.e. non-‘ultras’) were allowed to continue to the match after collection of personal identification information and being photographed, of course only after enough delay to prevent many from arriving to the match on time for kickoff.
Essentially, Peters’ report speaks of something that, to me, is nearly unconscionable: a planned police action to intercept the earliest-arriving of the 1. FC Köln fans, likely the ultras who need extra time to hang banners and prepare to lead singing and chants. I won’t even begin to guess at what would motivate such a thing because it’s just too crazy to be believed!
Unfortunately for many, the return trip to Köln seems to have also been a bit nightmarish, with the lowlight of the trip stemming from disturbances in one car leading to the holding of uninvolved fans for four hours in the rain while the police sorted matters.
There’s a lot in Ms. Peters’ post, far too much for me to try to encapsulate entirely here, but between it and the news reports I’ve read, I’m willing to concede that there likely were some actions by visiting fans that triggered the response, but charge vehemently that the police may have jumped at the chance to overreact and, rather than deal with a few individuals and allow the day to continue, opted to continue to provoke further conflict.
I don’t suppose I have any clue from here in Seattle what really happened, but I do know that pretending there isn’t any abuse coming from the side of the officials wouldn’t really help. Without a doubt, neither side can be blamed entirely for the ugliness of the day, but one side had a disproportionate amount of influence on which way things would go and that side appears to have opted for aggression.
That should not be the role of the police here. Football fans are not inherently criminal, nor should they be handled as such.
I hope something can be done to prevent such things in the future, especially considering I hope to someday travel with those same fans to some away venues from Köln.