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Aug 28, 2013

Police continue Schalke disagreement

Schalke’s row with the German police has continued after a spokesman for the Police Union told the Bundesliga club to "keep their mouth shut".

Schalke fans react angrily to police intervention during the game against PAOK Salonika.
Schalke fans clashed with German police during their Champions League qualifier against PAOK Salonika.

The disagreement began during the Royal Blues’ Champions League qualifier first-leg against PAOK Salonika last week, when a group of 100 police entered the Nordkurve section of Schalke’s Veltins Arena to remove an offensive flag.

The police action ended with 87 people requiring treatment by the German Red Cross following the use of tear gas. Schalke had condemned the police action as "excessive" but police had claimed "those were the appropriate steps to not further put the life of innocent bystanders into danger."

Late last week, UEFA launched disciplinary proceeding against Schalke for the alleged display of political banners, crowd trouble and late submission of team sheets, but the football club hit back, releasing an official statement, which said: "FC Schalke 04 will seek legal advice and plead not guilty."

On Friday, the ultras of local rivals Borussia Dortmund declared their solidarity with Schalke fans during Dortmund’s game against Werder Bremen.

"The true face of the NRW [North-Rhine-Westphalia] police: Sunday here, Wednesday in GE [Gelsenkirchen]," a banner on Dortmund’s Sudtribune read.

This solidarity is unprecedented in the history of Schalke and Borussia, whose fan groups have one of the biggest rivalries in European football.

The police action had also been criticised by politicians from all parties, but the home office had backed the police action in a statement for Borussia Dortmund fanzine schwatzgelb.de

On Wednesday, the spokesperson for the Police Union DPLOG, Rainer Wendt, told Sport Bild: "It had to be feared that because of the controversial flag the fan groups would clash and this would lead to grievous bodily harm.

"If Mr Heldt and Mr Peters [the Schalke officials who had condemned the police action] persist in saying the pepper spray and riot stick action was excessive, I have to say: They don’t have a clue and should keep their mouth shut in public."

German Football League president Reinhard Rauball added also in Sport Bild: "That a leading Police Union member orders those responsible at Schalke to be quiet, I believe that is presumptuous. Was it necessary to send police into a fan block for a flag that is not banned in Germany?" he asked.

Another Police Union, the GdP, also criticised the club. In an open letter, Arnold Plickert, the county chairman of the union, wrote: "I would have wished that Schalke distanced themselves from the violent attacks of the Schalke Ultras instead of questioning the proportionality of the police action."

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