German clubs adopt security charter
FRANKFURT, Germany -- German football clubs have adopted new security measures that include stiffer controls outside stadiums and possible body searches in an attempt to fight growing fan violence.
The measures have been contested by fan groups and about 400 supporters of different clubs staged a peaceful protest outside the meeting in a Frankfurt hotel.
For several weeks, fans at German stadiums have remained silent for the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds of all games, in reference to the measures being adopted on Wednesday's date.
The German Football League (DFL) adopted the new controls under pressure from lawmakers, who had threatened to impose their own security measures unless the game reacted to violence. Authorities had threatened to abolish standing sections at stadiums, usually used by the organized fan groups.
DLF president Reinhard Rauball said the measures will preserve the "fan culture" at German stadiums, which are generally modern and safe. The Bundesliga enjoys some of the biggest crowds in major leagues.
"We can assure all fans that today's decisions will not threaten football culture in Germany," Rauball said.
Many German fan groups fear new measures will restrict their rights. They object to stiffer controls, which could include special tents for strip searches. Authorities want such measures to prevent groups from smuggling in flares, firecrackers and other paraphernalia that could be dangerous in crowded locations.
The fans have also objected to plans to restrict tickets for visiting supporters at high-risk games.
Rauball said the new measures will be implemented in cooperation with fan groups.
"The league and the clubs will continue to strive for dialogue and prevention," Rauball said.
The league will start schooling and licensing stadium security personnel to make them more professional.
German police, which recently reported a 12-year high in stadium violence, welcomed the decision.
A report issued in November said 1,142 people were injured at matches in the top two divisions last season, a jump of 120 percent over the average for the last 12 years. Police say 16,500 potentially violent fans are registered for the top four divisions, a jump of 10 percent.
The new measures need to be approved by the German Football Federation next month, but that is considered a formality. They go into effect next season.
Rauball said a good majority of the 36 clubs in the top two divisions voted for the measures, although five clubs had wanted more time to study them.