German clubs, league agree on tighter security plan

FRANKFURT Wed Dec 12, 2012 4:00pm GMT

1 of 2. Riot police protect the entrance of a hotel from soccer fans during the German Soccer Federation (DFL) meeting in Frankfurt December 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The German football league (DFL) and clubs from the top two tiers on Wednesday agreed on a tighter set of security measures after a sharp rise in violence and pressure from politicians to act.

The DFL and the 36 clubs from the top two leagues voted in favour of tougher stadium checks, increased crackdown on flares and smoke bombs and tougher sanctions, video monitoring, and better-trained security staff.

"Professional football is coming out as a winner today," DFL President Reinhard Rauball told reporters. "All 16 points were accepted with a wide majority. Germany's football culture is not threatened by this.

"It is good news that the DFL is in a position to make its own homework," said Rauball, relieved to have avoided an intervention from politics after Germany's interior ministry had urged the DFL to act.

Many fans, some 500 of whom had peacefully demonstrated outside the Frankfurt hotel where the meeting took place, have accused the DFL of spoiling their football experience and having had little input in drafting the concept.

"This is not a decision against fans but a decision in favour of football and its future," said Rauball.

The concept, which also includes home teams reducing or providing no tickets to away spectators at high-risk games, has triggered weeks of protests among fans.

They remained silent for the first 12 minutes of every Bundesliga game in the past two weeks, chanted against the plan and pledged more protests even after the vote.

The country's football association (DFB) also welcomed the decision.

"It is an important sign for football and the majority of peaceful fans that the majority of German licensed clubs voted in favour and showed unity," said DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach.

"We need guidelines with everyone involved but we also need guidelines along which we can orientate ourselves."

German football is struggling to contain growing violence with 2011-12 season figures released last month hitting a 12-year-high despite a financial boom and the world's highest average match attendance.

The report said the 2011-12 season had the highest number of criminal proceedings in 12 years, almost double the amount of injured fans and a more than 20 percent rise in police work hours from the previous season.

Widespread crowd trouble before the Ruhr valley derby between champions Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 in October and more fighting when Hanover 96 met Dynamo Dresden in the German Cup have put further pressure on the DFL to be seen tackling the problem.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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