It’s Karlsruhe vs. Köln on the pitch, not Karlsruhe Police vs. Köln fans outside!


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.

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9 Comments on "It’s Karlsruhe vs. Köln on the pitch, not Karlsruhe Police vs. Köln fans outside!"

  1. Hello mate
    as i read -,you are familiar with Sarah Peters article. Thats just something like the top of the mountain, the behaviour of the police in karlsruhe is just like every other away match. And even at home matches isnt it much better. Media doenst write about it at all, politicans ignore it as well. Fundamental and civil rights are violated from an excecutive gouverment power, and that week for week! Stop Police tyranny or the violence is going to escalade.

    thank you for your support anyway

    • My support you will always have in such matters!

      I’m sorry to hear this issue gets ignored. With mobile technology everywhere, I’m surprised more video doesn’t surface to help alert the rest of the public to the problem.

  2. There is something very simple that can be done to instantly improve the situation: individual labeling of police men and women. That won’t stop idiot cops from acting violently. It won’t automatically make every misdemeanor traceable. But it would be a big step away from the current police violence problem, that the media so like to portray as a fan violence problem. amnesty international agrees. German police lobby organizations (erratically calling themselves unions) disagree. Shocker.

    • See? That’s exactly the sort of thing that keeps me from being able to fully comment on the matter. I had no idea police officers were without individual identification on their persons. I take for granted they have name plates of some sort, as we have it here. So you have mob mentality, just by nature, but also fuelled by the fact each person knows they are not going to be held individually accountable for their actions, as their identity is not easily attained. That’s insane and not just a little backwards for a nation I generally consider to be well ahead of my own in so many human-rights areas.

  3. Hi.
    I just happend to stumble across your blog. It is refreshing to see a different point of view from time to time. As for this entry and the answers I’ll have to say the following. I’m a policeman here in Germany (and also an effzeh fan). I also had to work at and around football matches. I wasn’t present in Karlsruhe so I can’t comment on that from a police point of view. While there are certainly problems every week in and around the stadiums, I have never personally violated or hurt someone for unproffesional reasons e.g. without a reason rooted in the German law. And even that I can count on two fingers. On the other hand I have been attacked and insulted on quite a few occasions. Would I go and call all football fans violent? No of course not. That would mean calling myself violent which I am not. I met lots of football fans that are scared of other football fans though. Even if the so called real fans only see these others as “event fans”. I’ve been asked many times if I could offer protection for people who were to scared to leave their blocks in the stadium or their homes in the town where the game takes place. And while I personally think that there is no cause to be overly alarmed I think its sad that people have those fears in combination with a football game. I don’t want to defend any actions of the police that were probably unjust or unadjusted. I’m only saying that there are two (or even more) sides to that coin. I also can say, that the police in Germany is a very trustworthy organization. Lots of people have told me so over my years of service. Then again some didn’t, mostly those I kept from harming others for fun or personal gain or whatever reasons. Just my two cents. Keep up the god work and “come on effzeh!!!!!”

    • Howdy, mate!

      I appreciate your commenting here. It’s easy to lose touch with the fact there are a lot of human faces on the police-side of things, too.

      I would no sooner place blame at ALL police than you would with all football fans.

      Yet, there is a clear imbalance of power in these situations, which puts the greater responsibility on the officials. That individuals cannot be readily identified by name or some other way that would make them personally accountable for their actions really muddles the picture for me.

      Here in the US, I have some friends who are policemen and feel confident in saying they and the vast majority of their colleagues are great, upstanding people who are doing a societal good in their jobs and will never be accused of doing otherwise. That does not mean the significant number of people who abuse their position and authority get similar consideration by me. The difference is that police officers here all carry name and badge-number identification at all times. They must also provide that information when requested by a citizen.

      Don’t get me wrong; this does not prevent problems, by any means, but I think it is a good policy, at the very minimum. When an individual is found to have done something untoward, they can be handled as an individual rather than hiding anonymously among their peers.

      Of course, we do not have a fraction of the crowd-control issues at sporting matches as what’s found in your country. For whatever reason, things are largely a lot more civil at our stadiums and arenas.

      It’s a tough topic. There needs to be balance, because everyone who wants to attend a match, whether a local family or visiting teen ultra-fans, should be able to feel safe to, in, and from a venue.

      But the last thing that should happen is for innocent fans to fear the police. It seems that is the current situation, and I’m not sure how you can repair that!

      Best wishes to you and your colleagues. I know you have a difficult job, but I also know just from your writing here that you are a considerate person by nature, so I’ve faith you’ll succeed!

      And…of course…COME ON, EFFZEH! back to you!

  4. You are absolutely correct! My wife, despite all assurances from me, is shy about the idea of us travelling to Köln and taking the family to a match. She thinks it’s bananas over there.

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