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Nov 28, 2012

German fans begin silent protests

Fans at Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion were among the first to spend the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds of a match in silence on Tuesday night in protest at measures proposed to control spectators.

The controversial DFL paper called 'Safe Stadium Experience' threatens to reduce away support from the current 10% of all tickets to 5% and also includes a ban on away standing, with a complete ban on safe standing also looming over the fans as the last measure.

The draft is put to vote on December 12, and fans of clubs in Germany's top two divisions will be voicing their silent protest against the paper on the matchdays leading up to that date.

Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl called the experience of playing in silence for the first part of his side's 1-1 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf "weird".

Supporters remained quiet for the stipulated length of time - chosen to represent their role as their team's '12th man' - before counting down to zero and filling the stadium with noise.

After the match, Kehl told Der Westen: "We knew what was awaiting us. Those first 12 minutes were weird. The fans wanted to set a signal with the symbolic time 12:12. And not only our fans did that but many others in Bundesliga."

Campaign spokesperson Jan-Henrik Gruzecki told ESPN: "Of course, we are overwhelmed by the reactions. We have set a distinct example for the political hardliners. The whole stadium joined in. They have shown that not only a minority is opposed to the paper, but the majority of all football fans."

The protests have received a great deal of attention in Germany but, despite the coverage ahead of the games, Hamburg boss Thorsten Fink was not aware of the protests. "At the beginning I did not know why the fans were silent," he told the press after Hamburg's 3-1 win over Schalke 04.

"I thought, they might still be cross with us for playing poorly in Dusseldorf. But then somebody explained what it was all about."

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