Babelsberg’s fight against the NOFV – Ignoring Nazis shouldn’t be tolerated

On the 28th of April the match between SV Babelsberg and Energie Cottbus yielded a lot of outrage among German football fans. What had happened? A number of away supporters had shouted Nazi paroles, whilst raising their right arm to do the Hitler salute. Babelsberg’s fans responded after the 15th minute and from there on out things took a nasty turn. Both sides fired flare at one another and the police had to intervene on both sides.

However, when the NOFV(the North Eastern Football Association) took a look at the Regionalliga match in question both sides were fined considerable amounts of money. Energie were fined 10,000 Euros and a match in front of empty stands at first, but later the sentence was reduced to a 4,000 Euro fine and no away fans during the next away game against Babelsberg. The club from Berlin on the other hand were fined 7,000 Euros.

“We don’t see the fun in racism”

Several elements of the ruling have upset the football going public in both Babelsberg and elsewhere. First of all there is the fact that Energie was allowed to get a reduced sentence, whilst the president of Babelsberg was told that his complaint wasn’t valid due to the fact that he sent an email to the federation. Furthermore, the ruling stated that “a person with spotted hair shouted “down with Nazis” in the 15th minute of the match”. At no point whatsoever does Jürgen Lischewski, the judge in the case, mention the fact that Energie’s fans had engaged in Nazi chants or the Hitler salute. One has to wonder why.

Babelsberg released a statement after the verdict explaining why the club was disappointed in the court’s findings:

“This football match was used as a stage by right wing extremists and rioters from Cottbus and the fan scene surrounding the away team. This fact has been established by the Police, safety experts and the research conducted by different media outlets. This special circumstance, which never before had occurred in Babelsberg, regarding the conscious efforts to disturb the match by the away fans wasn’t at all included in the verdict.”

If one takes a closer look at the ruling it seems like the reaction coming from the Babelsberg fans wasn’t provoked at all. The fact that the rainbow flag and a Refugees Welcome banner was present at the match tells the story of a fan base that is rather left wing in their thinking. It’s not surprising that the Cottbus fans behaviour wasn’t tolerated by the fans present at the home end. Furthermore, why should it be?

Judge Lischewski told 11 Freunde that the football association “doesn’t see the fun in racism”, but Babelsberg president Archibald Horlitz is right to question if the NOFV turns a blind eye to racism in this case given the ruling in this case. Horlitz’s complaints regarding the ruling were overturned due to a technicality. Babelsberg have used their email servers to send complaints to the association 5 or 6 times prior to this case according to Horlitz. However, whilst this was okay in the past the club now have been told that complaints cannot be launched via email.

Herr Grindel, what are your thoughts on the matter?

Despite the NOFV’s resolute stance of ignoring the complaints by Babelsberg, the club keeps fighting the verdict reached by the courts. In an open letter to DFB president Reinhard Grindel the president of SV Babelsberg is once against stating his case. In the letter Archibald Horlitz writes:

“To include the reaction to the Cottbus support’s behaviour in the verdict, without mentioning the provocations which led up to these events with one single word isn’t acceptable.”

Furthermore, he adds:

“When competing teams like BSG Chemie Leipzig, the mayor of the city of Potsdam, the head of the party The Left, The Jewish Forum, FC St. Pauli and several others take our side in this matter, and when our Facebook campaign reaches more than 200,000 clicks, it should tell you something about the dimensions of the public that has been reached by the case and their clear point of view on the matter be clear to you.”

DFB president Grindel had been unequivocal in his condemnation of the right wing fans who had disturbed the national team’s away match against the Czech Republic. In his response to the club the DFB president highlights the work done by the head of the NOFV’s court Stephan Oberholz. Furthermore, Grindel reiterates that the court was taking a look at the flares shot back and forth between the two sections of fans.

However, Grindel says that the NOFV is on the case:

“In your open letter you state your view of what has happened and therefore you are submitting charges(which the NOFV can take a look at). Herr Oberholz has told me that he is going to start building a case in regards of the charges that have come forward through your open letter. He is convinced that accusations and details mentioned in the letter can’t be left untreated, which in turn means that a court has to work through the evidence.”