Breach of Taboos

For the first time in German football history, three points are deducted from a club for fan offence. The verdict is supposed to serve as a deterrent for Ultras – but could aggravate the conflict with them.

„Of course,“ said Achim Späth. Of course, he was aware of the consequences of the verdict, which the presiding judge of the Federal Court of the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed in second instance on Tuesday. The experienced lawyer did not want to say any more after the pronouncement of the verdict and referred to the written statement he would write in the coming days.

In the confrontation with the active fan scene, the world’s largest football association is treading a new path: with a deduction of points as a result of spectator riots, it is intervening in the sporting competition for the first time.

Späth and his two assessors confirmed the deduction of three points against the regional league team SV Waldhof Mannheim for the current season, because the promotion game against KFC Uerdingen in the past season on 27 May had to be stopped after a massive use of pyrotechnics and flares by the Waldhof fans at the score of 1:2 in the 81st minute.

So far this consequence of the sanctioning of misconduct of the supporters was a taboo, fines and spectator (partial) exclusions were pronounced with similar offences. In riots following the relegations of Hamburger SV this year or TSV 1860 Munich in the previous season, the association refrained from punishing them with points deducted, now the next stage of (penalty) escalation followed.

KFC Uerdingen jetbull

Mannheim ruling now serves as precedent

„We are on new paths, but that’s what we want and we’re going that way now,“ Späth said during the sentencing. „We have three different groups of fans,“ he said, „fans, Ultras and criminals. It is important to keep these groups apart in order to prevent the takeover of those who „do not base themselves on the law“. The ruling following the abortion of the Mannheim match now serves as a precedent and is apparently supposed to have a deterrent effect.

The Mannheimers, who are currently leading the Southwest Regional League table despite the three-point deduction, think they have made themselves a buffer. „It feels a little bit like that“, said managing director Markus Kompp. After fan mistakes in the past the SV Waldhof has a bad state with the federation and provided beyond that for displeasure with the DFB, because it set itself in the past year as first and prominent club against the measure to the defense to let the Chinese U20 national team play out of competition in the regional league southwest.

„As a small SV Waldhof Mannheim, we are expected to follow this path for the first time. I don’t know whether this was the right choice,“ Kompp said, showing no understanding for the verdict. He said it was difficult to try to solve a problem at SV Waldhof that existed throughout Germany.

It is fitting that the dialogue with representatives of the Ultra scene initiated by DFB President Reinhard Grindel was only cancelled by the fans a few weeks ago. At the same time, intensified protests were announced. „We are still motivated to the tips of our hair to stand up for the basic values of football and against a further alienation of football through corruption, landowners‘ machinations and commercialisation“, it says in a joint statement by various fan scenes from professional clubs. Whether a tightening of the sanctions, as has now happened for the first time in the case of SV Waldhof, will deter fans from further action is at least questionable.

For the former Bundesliga club SV Waldhof, which has now been stuck in the fourth league for 15 years and, according to lawyer Dr. Johannes Zindel, has expressly kept the possibility open of taking action before a civil court against the verdict of the DFB Federal Court, the hope remains that the now pronounced deduction of points will not have a negative sporting effect. „It would probably be best for everyone if we had a twelve-point lead in May and climbed up,“ explained Zindel. Jetbull are relatively new to the online betting arena and are quickly getting a bigger stranglehold on the UK betting market.