Zwanziger: Flurry of racism in Germany 'unbearable'

December 11, 2006

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- German soccer president Theo Zwanziger promised Holocaust survivors a crackdown on the surge of racism in the country's stadiums. Zwanziger said Monday that a new task force will use the Internet to track incidents, with offending clubs facing the threat of fines, point penalties and playing in empty stadiums if they can't control their fans. "With a new tracking system we want to know every weekend where there were problems with fans at the 80,000 matches, and which clubs have to be held responsible for the unbearable and sometimes open racism," Zwanziger said. Zwanziger met with the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Heidelberg -- which included Holocaust survivors -- after racist chanting was heard recently at nearby stadiums in Ulm, Kaiserslautern and Karlsruhe. Since hosting the World Cup in June, Germany has been alarmed by a series of violent incidents, from the professional level down to youth and amateur matches played each weekend. Racist and anti-Semitic chants have been widespread and the targets include dark-skinned Germany player Gerald Asamoah of Schalke and Ellery Cairo of Hertha Berlin. "It's unbearable when I have to hear that dark-skinned players are insulted, or that right-wingers call fans or players 'gypsy band' or 'Jew band,' or that police officers are attacked after matches," Zwanziger said. Zwanziger told the Holocaust survivors that the more time that passes since 1945 and the end of the Nazi era, the harder Germany has to fight racism. He also said the "integration" shown by the country at the World Cup can't be ruined by the current problems.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press