German FA wants Saxony ban after violence
BERLIN, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The head of the German soccer federation (DFB) said on Monday all matches in the eastern state of Saxony should be postponed this weekend after hooligans attacked police in Leipzig on Saturday.
Around 800 Lokomotive Leipzig supporters assaulted some 300 police after a regional cup match in the Saxon city, causing dozens of injuries in what was the latest outbreak of violence involving lower league clubs in Germany.
'I would stop all matches in Saxony this weekend as a gesture of solidarity toward the police,' DFB President Theo Zwanziger told a news conference in Frankfurt. No current Bundesliga clubs are from the state.
Saxony's soccer association (SFV) said it supported Zwanziger's proposal and said it would instruct its three affiliated local associations to give their backing. 'We want to send a signal,' SFV head Klaus Reichenbach said in a statement.
Zwanziger said the DFB would assess whether spectators should be barred from some high-risk matches among the 80,000 played every weekend across Germany and whether some of those games should even be cancelled.
The incident in Leipzig came after the Italian government suspended all soccer matches on Feb. 2 after the death of policeman Filippo Raciti during rioting at a Serie A match between Catania and Palermo.
Play was allowed to resume this weekend in some Italian stadiums that met tightened security rules and members of the public were barred from some matches.
Zwanziger said earlier on Monday in an interview with broadcaster MDR it was possible some German stadiums would be closed for good if trouble could not be stamped out.
'The mentality that we should see in football should not go in the direction we saw in Leipzig on Saturday,' he said.
'If people are using soccer in this way then we cannot play soccer there.'
Germany's police union on Monday accused Lokomotive Leipzig of neglect, pointing to the large numbers of fireworks that spectators had smuggled into the stadium and that led to the match twice being halted.
'If clubs cannot get this under control then they should not complain when they have to play matches without spectators,' union chairman Konrad Freiberg said in a statement.
In a statement on its website on Sunday, Lokomotive Leipzig said it condemned the violence in the strongest possible terms and that the club would fully support the police in their efforts to bring the hooligans to justice.
In October last year, the soccer federation created a task force to look into ways of dealing with hooliganism.