German soccer federation launches racism probe

September 18, 2006

BERLIN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The German soccer federation (DFB) said on Monday it had launched an investigation into 'racist incidents' at Saturday's Bundesliga match between Alemannia Aachen and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

'During Saturday's match in Aachen, there was racist abuse directed first from the Aachen fan area at Moenchengladbach's Brazilian striker Kahe and then from the Moenchengladbach supporters at Aachen's Zambian player Moses Sichone,' the DFB said in a statement on its website.

According to German media reports and spokesmen for the two clubs, referee Michael Weiner had an announcement broadcast in the stadium at halftime threatening to halt proceedings if the Aachen fans did not stop chanting 'Asylant', German for asylum seeker, at Kahe.

After the announcement, the Moenchengladbach fans began abusing Sichone, the reports and spokesmen said. Aachen won the match 4-2.

Racism has been a prominent issue in the German media in recent weeks in the run-up to Sunday's state election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in which the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) won 7.2 percent of the vote.

The DFB last week fined Hansa Rostock's regional league side 20,000 euros ($25,310) after fans chanted racist slogans at Schalke 04's black striker Gerald Asamoah in a German Cup match. Rostock is in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Moenchengladbach spokesman Markus Aretz told Reuters on Monday the club would use its next home match to step up its campaign against racism.

'This is something that does not belong in a soccer stadium,' he said. 'We are surprised that our fans were involved in something like that because we have not had any problems of that kind before.'

Thorsten Pracht, a spokesman for Alemannia Aachen, said the club very much regretted what had happened and it fully supported the action taken by the referee.

The club already had an active campaign against racism in soccer and this would be intensified in light of Saturday's incidents, he told Reuters.

The DFB said Weiner had prepared a report on the incidents for a special investigating committee and both clubs had been asked to make immediate statements.

Aachen and Moenchengladbach both said they would likely provide their statements to the DFB on Monday.