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Imagine all the people…

July 22, 2009

There is a wonderful familiarity about the approaching of a new football season … the hectic in the transfer market, the renovating of stadiums, the pre-season matches against an opponent each more abstract and surreal than the one before, and for those of us lucky enough to live in eastern Germany, of the security bods shitting themselves in all directions simultaneously.

Yesterday was the annual pre-season “Security Press Conference” in the Zentralstadion. Thanks to a poorly considered flight schedule we missed it this year, but judging by today’s LVZ article it was an absolute classic.

“SKBs (plain clothes police officers who specialise in football fans) have allegedly information that Leipzig and Halle fans want to protest against Red Bull” announces veteran football correspondent Steffen Enigk, without the slightest hint of irony.
Which is of course why we are here.

“What? the fans from the “traditional” clubs in the region might protest against what they see as the unacceptable commercialisation of football through Red Bull….

…Thank f**k there are SKBs to point that out!”

At this rate it’s only a matter of time before they discover that there are people out there who are against experimentation on animals or who consider nuclear power a bad thing!!!

Now, while we can’t rule out some creative gardening, decorating or other menial task based protest from the critics, we really can’t see where the potential violence on match days is going to come from. OK we can, but were going to keep the answer locked in a chest until such time as we need it…

Regardless, this over exaggerating of a risk, especially based on some alleged information from the SKBs (the vast majority of whom are truly anonymous for the local media here) is all part and parcel of the build up to a season or for that matter any big match: Who can forget the delightful “SKB information” that led to the Berlin police inexplicably banning all Dynamo fans from the match against Union in 2008. Sadly none of our well connected local hacks thought to check-up on where the information came from nor what it contained.

As ever.

For, another important feature of such a pre-season build up is the media’s unquestioning acceptance that the measures the police outline are correct and guaranteed to help.

The LVZ quoted SFV security boss Lutz Mende as saying, “anyone arriving drunk at a train station or who rampages in a bus won’t be allowed into the stadium”

You gotta laugh…you really, really do.

Don’t you?

Such a statement is so hollow you’re almost forced assume termites have gotten in and devoured the core.

That it also completely misses the point, is not grounded in fact and laughs in the face of all modern understanding of violent episodes at sports matches are topics for another post or twelve.

Similarly switching fixture dates to try to avoid fans meeting is no solution. They’re going to meet, somewhere, sometime and when they do everyone is going to have to cope.

The key to crowd control at football matches isn’t huge police presences. Honestly it isn’t.

As even the police in Sachsen themselves nobly demonstrate time and time again…

It’s organisation. It’s planning. It’s understanding the nature of the beast you are facing. Switching fixture dates may help give an impression of control, but not only does it not tackle the real problem but much more downgrades it to something relatively harmless that can be tackled by shifting a fixture date or two. Or banning drunk people from stadiums.

And until the authorities understand the folly of their ways, nothing but nothing is going to change.

As we say we sadly missed the press conference yesterday, but we won’t miss the season … and we already have a good inkling how its going to progress

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