Flare incident at Bundesliga match renews security debate in Germany
Germany coach Joachim Loew joins calls for full body searches at matches
After hooligans forced a Bundesliga game to be delayed by throwing lit flares at the weekend, Germany coach Joachim Loew is leading the call for tighter security measures in stadiums.
Last Saturday, hooligans in the Eintracht Frankfurt fan block forced their team's 3-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen to be delayed by six minutes after lighting flares and setting off fireworks.
Referee Wolfgang Stark marched both teams off the pitch amid safety concerns for players after the pyrotechnics started landing on a corner of the pitch.
"It is absolutely unacceptable when a game needs to be interrupted like that," said Loew, who was in the stadium. "When missiles are thrown thereby endangering other spectators, it's extremely important to take action against these people with all the power available."
After clubs in Germany's top two leagues voted on December 12 to adopt controversial new security regulations, outlined by the German Football League (DFL), safety at football grounds remains a hot topic here.
A contentious point of the new regulations involves the clubs' right to demand full body searches for any fans suspected of carrying fireworks.
The images of masked Frankfurt fans waving flares at Leverkusen's BayArena only strengthens the argument for strip searching all fans attending a game, says Juergen Klopp, coach of German champions Borussia Dortmund.
"We thought we had a result we could live with," said Klopp referring to the regulations, which were modified after fans' protests last year.
"It's bad when you see images like this. There is nothing more detrimental to a discussion than if you see pictures like those."
The German Football Federation (DFB) is expected to impose a six-figure fine and insist Frankfurt play a game behind closed doors as this is not the first time Eintracht have appeared before the DFB disciplinary committee.
According to German magazine Kicker, the Hessen club has already paid €473,000 (HK$4.9 million) in DFB fines for their fans' behaviour since 2002.
Leverkusen chairman Wolfgang Holzhaeuser has said he wants to pass any fines his club may face, for their part as hosts, onto the fans responsible and wants to increase the price of tickets for away fans.
"Imagine if something like that happened in the middle of Frankfurt?" Holzhaeuser said. "Why should it suddenly be possible in a stadium? Nobody, especially the fans who light those fireworks, are above the law."