Interview of the Week – Joachim Streich on Hooliganism and Violence in East German football

Hooliganism and violence in football has been and remains a contentious issue and it has been brought to the forefront again after Dynamo Dresden supporters unruly behavior in a Cup match against Dortmund earlier this season.  Now Hansa Rostock supporters are the latest under the radar of the German FA after their supporters fired rockets at their rival supporters from St. Pauli in their match last month.  Dynamo Dresden were eventually fined and suspended from the German Cup next year and Hansa Rostock followed suit.

East German football legend Joachim Streich talks candidly on the issue in an interview with German publication Tagesspiel’s Robert Ide on how he feels East German clubs are getting unfair treatment from the German FA and how violence amongst fans can be stopped.  Contributor Jonathan Lines translates the original interview.

“There Are Hooligans In The West Too” 

Tages Spiegel: Mr Streich…

Joachim Streich: I can tell why you’re calling. I expect you want to know why there’s so much violence at East German football clubs, right?

TS: And do you have an explanation?

Streich: Those people who completely lose it and start fights with other fans, they aren’t fans themselves. They are criminals. They must be punished with the utmost severity, and not just by being banned from the stadiums. They should be put in jail.

TS: Now the DFB is handing out stern punishments. After repeated incidents of violence,
Dynamo Dresden have been hit with a ban from next year’s German Cup, while Hansa Rostock have to play their second division match against Dresden behind closed doors this weekend.

Streich: I don’t think that’s right. In these cases, the clubs are being held responsible for professional hooligans. Of course, if the DFB think the point has been reached where you have to say “enough is enough”, I can understand. But there’s a growing feeling that teams from the east are always particularly severely punished. There are hooligans in the west too, just look at Eintracht Frankfurt. There has been rioting there for years. Banners are held up in the stands that say “Randalemeister” [Riot Champions], or that carry the distasteful slogan “Bomben auf Dresden” [Bombs on Dresden]. Yet I haven’t seen the DFB, whose headquarters, of course, is in Frankfurt-am-Main, throw the book
at them. The rulings are a bit inconsistent. Violence is not just an issue for eastern German football.

TS: Dresden were punished so severely because of repeated incidents.

Streich: I do think it’s right that Dynamo has launched an appeal against the ban. Dresden fans on the whole are not hooligans. On my last few visits to the stadium the atmosphere has been fantastic. Of course, there are some troublemakers there, but they are a small group who just use football to vent their frustrations. Banning the entire club because of that only leads to more frustration. Life’s hardly a bed of roses for either Dresden or Rostock, and they need these lost revenues. Rostock is being dropped by its main sponsor, which means they will lose 800,000€. There’s no easy
replacement for that money up there.

TS: And are these clubs actually doing enough to tackle violence? People have suspected
for a long time that Hansa Rostock’s security team is co-operating with hooligans.

Streich: I can’t be the judge of that, but I don’t want to rule it out. As a spectator, I have experienced for myself how threatening a few ultras can be to the whole stadium. After Rostock were relegated from the second division, I wasn’t allowed to leave the VIP gallery after the match because the mob was on the rampage underneath us. Then this makes you wonder: how did they even get inside…?

TS: Should police take a more interventionist approach?

Streich: They’ve been doing that for a long time. Recently I was at a derby between 1. FC Magdeburg and Hallescher FC in the fourth division, where visiting fans were escorted separately to a different station. The number of police there was just crazy. But then rockets and missiles were launched from the Hallescher section at neutral spectators after the game. How can someone even bring that stuff with them?

TS: You sound a bit resigned.

Streich: I’m hurt by the harsh rulings against the eastern clubs. But perhaps they do contribute something positive. They’ll make normal fans stop to think. We have to stand up to hooligans and shout: Stop! It’s our game you’re destroying here!

You can find the original article (in German) here and you can follow Jonathan on twitter @JonathanLines1

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari

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