Schily backs tough security as fans demonstrate
15 June 2005, FRANKFURT - German interior minister Otto Schily defended strict security measures planned for the 2006 World Cup, including the possible support of Nato forces, as the two-week Confederations Cup was set to get underway on Wednesday.
15 June 2005
FRANKFURT - German interior minister Otto Schily defended strict security measures planned for the 2006 World Cup, including the possible support of Nato forces, as the two-week Confederations Cup was set to get underway on Wednesday.
But not all fans arriving in Frankfurt, where hosts Germany were taking on Australia in the eight-nation tournament, are happy.
As the country began to get a taste of what it will mean to host the World Cup next year, the first signs of fan discontent was being seen at a demonstration planned to coincide with the tournament start.
More than 1,000 supporters from some 40 clubs around the country were expected to gather for a protest march in Frankfurt just a few hours before the match.
The fans are carrying a mixture of grievances, including claims of heavy-handed policing, alleged exclusion from prestige tournaments such as the Confederations Cup and World Cup, ticket sales and commercialism in the game.
"This is not our World Cup," one of the demonstration organisers Thomas Beck has told German media.
Germany's World Cup ticketing policy has been heavily criticised for the relatively few tickets on sale to the general public - around a third of the 3.2 million available - and the non-transferable rule preventing ticket holders passing their tickets on to anyone else.
Organisers of the fan protest also claim the constant raising by authorities of a possible security threat and tough police measures has contributed to "a climate of fear" and "hooligan hysteria".
The new Frankfurt stadium itself recently witnessed police in riot gear intervening to prevent supporters gaining access to the pitch to celebrate Eintracht Frankfurt's promotion to the first division. The police action was heavily criticised by fans.
But Schily, in an interview with the daily Frankfurter Rundschau, defended Germany's ticketing and security policies and said authorities would be on their guard against any security threats.
"Most fans understand that people involved in acts of violence have to be kept away from the stadiums," he said.
"Personalisation (personalised non-transferable tickets) is necessary as a defence against hooligans or others bent on violence. We also want to prevent ticket touting."
Schily repeated his message that police would act tough on hooligans. Asked about the police measures at the Eintracht Frankfurt game, he said: "Of course, deployment should be as such so as not to create a bad atmosphere. I have also pleaded for strict security measures which do not lead to the sporting atmosphere suffering."
Schily said the terrorist threat had also not subsided although "we have managed to weaken al-Qaeda considerably".
He added: "We are part of a danger area. But there is no reason for us to spoil the joy of looking forward to the World Cup. There is at present no concrete indication of an attack by a terrorist network, but we have to be on our guard."
Whether it would be necessary to call for support from Nato forces, who were present at the Athens Olympics Games, "we will decide when the time comes", he added.
The Frankfurt fan protest march was not expected to interfere with policing at the Confederations Cup match.
The demonstration, to begin near the stadium and move to the central railway station, was timed to start as the tournament's first match - between Argentina and Tunisia - kicked off in Cologne.
"The aim of the demo is to show that the active fans who provide the atmosphere in the grounds during the season are being excluded at the World Cup," Beck said.
One of the fans' complaints is that police are slapping stadium bans on supporters at Bundesliga matches for minor offences, or for merely being near incidents of crowd trouble.
These bans are then preventing fans from travelling to support the German team or attend matches at the Confederations and World Cups.
"It's not that we don't want security in the stadiums but it has to be kept in proportion," Beck said.
Organisers were using the Frankfurt game to test the 'chip card' tickets ahead of next year's World Cup.
A colour control system was in force to guide fans quickly from the city to their right place in the stadium, with spectators also being channelled through a security ring and security controls outside the ground, which will be the norm at the World Cup.
"Security is not a big issue for us at the Confederations Cup," said organising committee vice-president Wolfgang Niersbach on Wednesday. "It will be organised very much as at a Bundesliga or Champions League game."
Police say an analysis of 6,000 names on a hooligan register at the Dusseldorf state criminal police department also indicates the tournament will pass off peacefully.
Subject: German news