St Pauli let the nazis know the score
By Ed in Germany
Monday morning. Monday morning, after the derby even, the rivalry of which somehow always seems to be able to stir a little emotion in me, even after all these years away from Old Trafford. I’m sat at my desk at work, safe in the knowledge that should any colleagues stick their head round the door, I’m not going to be ribbed about the result.
So often, if United have lost somewhere, my German colleagues have heard about it and make a beeline to my office to rub it in, their jibes only offset by their delicious habit of calling United simply “Manchester”. Yet today as the usual faces appear, it is not to ask about the Moral Victory over Cup Champions city, but where I was on Friday night.
The reason they asked was because they thought I’d been involved in the widely reported “hooligan trouble” which had apparently led to the cancellation of the indoor football tournament the “Schweinske Cup”.
According to numerous media sources, St Pauli fans had clashed with rival fans of VFL Lübeck and the police, leading to the cancellation of this long-running tournament. Just blanket coverage, ignoring many important details of what actually happened, meant my colleagues thought that I was spreading the “English disease”. They thought that those St Pauli “rowdies” were at it again.
As it happened, my Friday night was spent nowhere near Hamburg. I’ve attended the event in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it. A two day tournament, with a mix of local smaller sides, occasionally an international guest and due to St Pauli’s regular participation, a fantastic atmosphere…
On this occasion, with the potential participation of our rivals from the suburbs, HSV, tickets sold out almost immediately. Short on holiday, I gave it a miss. By mid-evening, twitter and facebook started to report on the usual over-exuberance from the police; by late evening updates became more worrying. Fighting, pepperspray and injuries. One word posts of hate or disgust. By Saturday, it was clear that the tournament had been cancelled.
The media was in overdrive, the police had used their access to interviews to great effect, and even on the website of 11Freunde (something that, similarly to When Saturday Comes, generally is seen as a more intelligent football publication), the article was littered with comments underneath from whoppers wanking themselves silly at the idea of those do-gooders (i.e. against racist, sexist & homophobic intolerance) from St Pauli finally getting what they deserved.
So what DID happen? As mentioned, I wasn’t there and so I’m reluctant to say too much. At the same time, it would be disappointing if the only English-language report was the one on thelocal.de. As a result, I’ve taken the following bullet points from the FC St Pauli official statement2 (this created from eye-witness accounts by fans and club officials, the contents of which match heavily other sources on the web and comments made by friends in attendance). The sections in brackets are my own clarifications.
- Part-way through the tournament around 120 fans, seemingly belonging to Lübeck, stormed one section of seating. They chanted (in the direction of the St Pauli fans) “Gays, Gays”, “Children of Jews” and “Gypos”. The police and tournament organisers claim not to have heard.
- In the break after one match, fans, near the toilets, started verbally abusing each other (St Pauli v VFL Lübeck and, bizarrely, considering their team’s lack of participation, HSV), a situation worsened by the thin line of stewards separating the rival fans’ separate areas.. The police tried to clear the St Pauli fans out of the area. One 20 year old, who just wanted the loo, was beaten unconscious by a police officer. Other people, knocked unconscious, were taken to hospital.
- The police used pepperspray and truncheons to move the St Pauli fans back into the east wing of the hall. St Pauli’s own stewards were also caught up. No wishes (i.e. please return peacefully to the hall) from the police were communicated verbally to fans.
- Meanwhile in the hall, the Lübeck mob must have overcome the stewards watching them, and managed to steal three banners belonging to the St Pauli fanscene. A group of St Pauli fans then climbed into the same section, to try and regain the banners and protect other supporters, through the use of physical force. The police then once again used pepperspray, catching many innocent bystanders.
- A small number of St Pauli fans chased the Lübeckers around the outside of the pitch (it is assumed) to regain the banners, but without success. The Lübeck fans then reentered their section and continued provoking the St Pauli block. The police did not take action, despite it being clear that the Lübeck fans now back in the hall were those involved in the various misdemeanours. At this point there was evidently a great deal of panic, including further stress between the police and St Pauli fans, after they were forbidden to leave the hall. After cups were thrown at the police, various chases took place. Seemingly no official announcements were made over the tannoy during this stage to inform passive fans what to do.
- According to the FC St Pauli official press statement, as the main group of St Pauli fans then left the tournament hall and headed to the train station, there were continued confrontations between police and St Pauli fans. Groups of fans were kettled and then escorted further to the station. At the station, one full wagon was then sprayed with tear gas.
From my own experience, I can only refer back to the number of times St Pauli fans have peacefully partaken in the Schweinske Cup. I attended two years ago, when Arka Glydnia (a Polish side with many hooligans) attended the tournament. They were loud and obviously, at least some of them, keen on a bit of mither (a friend of mine was there as they politely asked if any St Pauli fans would be interested in an organised fight of 20 v 20!), and yet the tournament took place without incident inside the hall, with only minor confrontations with the police.
Unfortunately this point has been relatively overlooked by the media. Likewise many articles failed to challenge the organisers’ role in events or the questionable tactics used by the police. A further point, which has also received a surprising lack of coverage (particularly following on from the recent neo-nazi scandal in Germany 3) is the political nature of the violence. This, despite clear footage of a Lübeck fan doing a nazi salute (pictured).
Perhaps in light of the Suarez affair or the continued flirtation between our own i.e. British football subculture of casuals and the far-right organisation the EDL, we are not in a position to be critical, but it would appear that Germany has a nasty habit of sticking its head in the sand when it comes to its nazi problem.
I leave the final word to FC St Pauli official, Sven Brux, and his quote from the press conference yesterday:
“Und man muss es mal so deutlich sagen und bei der Realität bleiben: Wir werden landauf, landab dafür gerühmt, dass wir gegen Nazis stehen. Dann muss man sich auch mal gerademachen! Wenn einer Nazi-Sprüche macht, muss ihm klar sein, dass ihm das auch körperlich nicht guttun wird.“
“And it should be clearly stated, being realistic: we are known throughout the country that we (FC St Pauli) are against nazis. Let’s be clear. When someone comes out with nazi sayings, it must be made clear to him, that his actions could have a negative impact on his health”.
DO AS YOUR GRANDPARENTS DID, FIGHT FASCISM…