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Dec 14, 2012

German fans vow to step up protests

German football fans' 12:12 campaign, protesting against measures intended to control supporters, will step up demonstrations after the controversial Safe Stadium Experience paper was passed by the German Football League (DFL) this week.

• Hesse: Fight for your right to party

Proposals contained in the paper include reducing away support from the current 10% of all tickets to 5% and full body searches ahead of high-risk games, while politicians are hoping to introduce measures that would ban standing.

The 12:12 campaign - named because of supporters' role as their team's '12th man' and the date when the league's general meeting was held - held protests in which they stayed completely silent for the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds of matches earlier this season.

Spokesman Nicolai Maurer told ESPN: "Various fan groups will expand their protests. This could be anything from a temporary boycott to a complete boycott of a game, but could also mean not using visual devices like flags."

Silent protests were held on the three matchdays preceding the Football League's vote, which took place on Wednesday.

"The protests have shown in which direction football in Germany is headed," Maurer said. "Forthcoming protests are a chance to show that we are not satisfied. Football without atmosphere is, and always will be, an incomplete product."

Despite claims from the German football authorities that the Safe Stadium Experience paper was not directed against fans, supporters in Germany say they were never a meaningful part of the discussion process.

"From the very beginning, the DFL was not interested in a fair dialogue," Maurer said. "It was up to the fans to encourage a dialogue, but then tight deadlines were set to comment on profound concepts. It cannot be said this was an honest dialogue."

In November, the installation of tents in which away fans were searched for flares before Eintracht Frankfurt's game at Bayern Munich was described as an "intense intrusion into civil rights" by fan lawyers.

Two tents were installed under a measure recommended under the terms of the Safe Stadium Experience.

Some of the proposals in the document have come under fire from several Bundesliga and 2 Bundesliga clubs and, in a statement, Frankfurt fan liaison officers described it as "unrewarding".

The terms of the paper enable home clubs to notify the DFL of what they feel are "high risk" games. If the League agrees, clubs can then reduce the amount of tickets available to away supporters.

"The home club, if it wants to, can partly or even completely exclude away fans," Maurer said. "Before, it was not possible to reduce ticketing for away fans if the guest club did not agree. Home clubs could use this to exclude critical fan groups or give their own fans an advantage."

Maurer said it "cannot be that a collective punishment for the misbehaviour of individuals is imposed on fans".

The 12:12 protests are set to continue this weekend, when several fans' groups have announced a complete "atmosphere" boycott of games.

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