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Dec 12, 2012

German clubs to vote on fan measures

German football faces a potentially pivotal moment on Wednesday when a general meeting of all clubs in the top two leagues will put proposals for controversial fan security measures to the vote.

The paper, called 'Safe Stadium Experience', has been the dominating topic in German football over the past few weeks, and has also had an impact in the political sphere, with national newspapers running lead stories on the topic in the run-up to the December 12 ballot.

It proposes stricter controls on fans, including the banning of flares inside grounds, full body searches when entering the stadium and reduced capacity for high-risk games, with the responsibility for which fixtures are classified as such decided by the home club and local police.

The paper includes 16 separate clauses that each have to be passed with a two-thirds majority. Several league clubs have already spoken out against parts of the paper.

German football fans had made their criticism of the planned measures known in recent weeks with silent protests at matches, keeping quiet for the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds of every Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 game. Ahead of the Bundesliga games last weekend, supporters also took their protest to the streets in various cities throughout Germany. "We can better the safety-related and violence-preventing parameters for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 stadiums," the designated DFL chief executive, Andreas Retting, told WAZ.

The German football league had come under pressure from German interior ministers who threatened to take the issue into their own hands.

"If no agreement on sufficient measures is reached," Lower-Saxony interior minister Uwe Schunemann warned, "we will have more police at the games and this will lead to us having legal reasons to collect charges from the clubs."

German interior minister, Hans-Joachim Friedrich, added: "The problem is that some clubs don't take the issue seriously. They have a responsibility to secure safety for fans inside the stadium. It is not possible for them to say: 'Violence in football? Never heard of it!'"

But Bernhard Witthau, the executive of the biggest German police union GdP, said: "If you implement this then it also applies for every wine festival, every Schutzenfest and for government conventions."

The decision made by Bundesliga clubs on Wednesday will be closely monitored by both politicians and fans alike.

"German football needs the paper," Borussia Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke told WAZ. "We need to show politics we are able to act. We should not leave the issue to politics.

"I think the paper will be passed. I will listen to what is said and we will discuss a few things. Reducing tickets for away fans cannot be good of our supporters."

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