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Dec 5, 2012

German fans step up protests over rights

German fans will take their protest against the German football league's 'Safe Stadium Experience' proposal to the streets at the weekend.

Following their silent protests against a DFL paper threatening to reduce away support, ban away standing and full body searches ahead of high-security games, German fans have called for demonstrations outside stadiums in various cities throughout Germany this weekend.

Most of the demonstrations will go ahead before Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 games this weekend. The 12-minute-and-12-second-long silences at the beginning of every match in the top two tiers of the German league was widely recognised by media, league officials and politicians.

"The first silent protests have sent out a clear signal," a spokesman for the 12:12 movement - named due to their claimed importance as 'the 12th man' in the team - said. "The DFL and politicians took notice of it."

The DFL released an adjusted proposal in reaction to the protests but, despite the league association's vow to fight for standing as an important part of German fan culture and removing some conditions regarding searches, fans have called the changes "woolly". Ben Prasse, one of many spokespersons of the campaign, told dpa: "It [the adjusted paper] still leaves enough room for interpretation. I hope the clubs defeat the paper, then we will have more time."

Meanwhile, German interior ministers have discussed the paper and put the league association under pressure.

"DFB and DFL have submitted their proposals. To be honest, we had hoped for more," Northrhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Ralf Jager said.

Jager's Lower-Saxony colleague Uwe Schunemann added: "It is absolutely necessary that the league passes a concept on December 12 and that the clubs stick to it."

Schunemann said that otherwise clubs had to pay for police at the matches, with others asking for a "Safety Euro" to be included in the ticket price despite, according to DFL figures, clubs currently paying €718.5 million in taxes.

"We are against those populist claims," Prasse said.

Renowned German fan researcher Gerd Dembowski told Hannover-based publication MagaScene: "People calling for clubs participating in the expense for police at the games should be aware of the fact that every opera ticket is subsidised by €150 to €400."

Dembowski, who called football stadiums the biggest youth centre in town, added: "In many places football clubs are among the biggest tax payers. Football mobilises the masses, and football fans are also voters. The way the needs of football fans are dealt with is negligent"

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