BERLIN, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Germany’s football federation (DFB) will not tolerate anti-Semitic or racist attacks after a small group of people verbally abused Israeli player Itay Shechter during a Kaiserslautern training session, the DFB said on Tuesday.
The incident took place on Sunday, a day after relegation-threatened Kaiserslautern’s 4-0 defeat at Mainz 05 left them in 17th place, level on points with bottom-placed Freiburg.
A small group of people attended training, shouted anti-Semitic insults at Schechter and did the Nazi salute. A few hundred fans had met with players and officials to discuss the club’s sporting situation.
“Together with the president we want to underline that the DFB will not tolerate such actions and we must act decisively,” Wolfgang Niersbach, who will take over from DFB boss Theo Zwanziger next month, told reporters.
“Racism and anti-Semitism have no place in football. We must defend ourselves against this and we wish that the authorities chase up this incident.”
Police have launched an investigation to identify those involved while the club, which has called on fans to help identify the people involved, condemned the incident saying those responsible were not football fans.
“The players understood the feelings, views and fears of the fans,” Kaiserslautern chairman Stefan Kuntz said on Tuesday on the meeting with the Kaiserslautern fans.
“As a conclusion, it is this meeting with 300 club fans that should be in focus and not the inexcusable behaviour of a handfull of radicals.”
The display of Nazi symbols is banned in Germany and there have been growing concerns since the revelations last November that an extremist right-wing cell calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground lay behind the killings of 10 people, eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman.
Germany’s Nazi past makes right-wing militancy a particularly sensitive subject in the country. Experts have long warned of extremism among disenchanted young people in eastern regions of the country where unemployment is high and job prospects poor.
“The club’s fan representatives want to distance themselves from any racist, discriminatory or anti-Semitic comments of any kind,” Kaiserslautern fan clubs said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond