Chemnitzer FC has had to endure its share of bad press over the last few months. Back in March the fans made national headlines in Germany when they honored a deceased neo-nazi and hooligan fan of the club. Thomas Haller was mourned by the entire stadium, sending shock waves throughout the country.
“Rest in peace” read the banner commemorating the known neo-nazi and hooligan. The message was surrounded by a large cross, several flares and a minute’s silence, emotional music and an address by the stadium announcer were added into that toxic mix.
At first the club tried to distance itself from what went on in their stadium ahead of the match against Altglienicke, but a leaked WhatsApp group chat quickly contradicted the club’s initial statements.
In said chat group, fan liaison officer and city council member Peggy Schellenberger, wrote that Haller had in fact earned his send off, by being “a reliable service provider, fan and a friend”.
Schellenberger, who is a member of Social Democratic Party, added though that the club should be aware of the fact that it was going to face considerable media pressure in the aftermath of the event.
Who was Thomas Haller?
Haller wasn’t just any fan of the club. In the 90s he co-founded the group Hooligans, Nazis and Racists (HooNaRa). Despite that his security firm were in charge of Chemnitzer FC’s match day security. Haller’s firm lost that job after he gave an interview with German broadcaster MDR in 2006, where he stated:
“In the meantime, (the group’s members) got ten years older. Actually, HooNaRa doesn’t exist anymore. But on the other hand, we’ll be anywhere in half an hour.”
Despite the club officially stating that said interview “was harmful to the club”, Haller’s security company were still handed business by Chemnitzer FC until Haller’s demise according to MDR.
In the summer of 2018 the city of Chemnitz made headlines all around the world when far right protesters took to the streets. Their actions came in the wake of a murder of a local man, who was supposedly killed by a migrant. The protesters went as far as attacking foreign looking people and attacking a Jewish restaurant.
In the aftermath of these marches it was reported that the hooligan group Kaotic Chemnitz had been among the driving forces. Thomas Haller was said to have taken an active part in these marches as well.
Daniel Frahn again and again
But, it wasn’t just the fans and the club that made negative headlines during said match against Altglienicke. Striker and team captain Daniel Frahn decided to hold up a t-shirt reading “Support your local hools” after scoring in the tie. At first the player told the press that he wanted to ” to fulfill the wish of our fans to commemorate the deceased”, but Frahn then decided to apologize for his actions.
Frahn stated that he wasn’t a person harboring far right thoughts and that he wanted to distance himself from that world view.
However, the striker once again made national headlines when he decided to travel to Chemnitzer FC’s away match against Hallerscher FC with some fans. The 32-year-old was photographed amongst members of Katoic Chemnitz, clearly showing that he was moving within far right circles.
The club decided to sack its captain straight away. Romy Polster, deputy chair of Chemnitzer FC, told the press:
“With horror we have to recognise that our former team captain Daniel Frahn has turned out to be a great sympathiser of the right-wing and inhumane group ‘Kaotic Chemnitz’ and thus caused great damage to the club. There is zero tolerance for this behaviour.”
Polster added about the previous incident involving Frahn and the club’s far right supporters:
“His remorse back then was a farce. He could not and did not want to take responsibility as a player and team captain in the football club.”
The fans on the other hand side decided to take Frahn’s side in the aftermath of his dismissal. In the cup match against HSV the fans yelled “Daniel Frahn Fussballgott” every time the name of a player in the line up was read by the stadium’s announcer. Additionally, the number 11 (Frahn’s kit number) was held up on white signs and there were several signs telling the leadership of the club to get lost (mildly put).
The club hasn’t dealt with its problems
It has been widely known that Chemnitzer FC has struggled with elements within their supporter groups. Groups like the aforementioned Kaotic Chemnitz and NS Boys (short for New Society, according to themselves) have gained national notoriety for their fervent right wing ideology.
Over the years the club hasn’t done enough to get a grip on the problems it has been facing. Both groups have been banned from the stadium, but it is widely known that their members play key roles in the stands in Chemnitz.
After the fan’s minute of silence for Thomas Haller, Robert Claus researcher and author who specializes in far-right extremism and football, told Zeit:
“Instead (of dealing with the problem), CFC have gone down a road of helplessly trying to put out fires with one eye catching move after another.”
After the public mourning of Thomas Haller’s death, the club decided to relieve fan liaison officer Peggy Schellenberger of her duties and let go off its stadium announcer and a member of its communication team. Furthermore, CEO also decided to resign from his post in the aftermath of the match.
An awful lot of heads were rolling, but have these things happened to change anything whatsoever in the past? Claus told 11 Freunde in article published in the magazine in May of 2019 that none of the clubs officials had ever met on talks that were held among club officials that were aiming at getting rid of the problem of right wing support.
However, over the last few month something has changed. Claus told 11 Freunde in a recent interview:
“In the spring, the group “CFC fans against racism” was founded. The fact that this initiative exists is worth its weight in gold. Until recently Chemnitz was one of the few cities within German football that didn’t have an anti racism fan initiative. If this is growing slowly and the club decides to support this over the long run, they are on the right way.”
The chaos from within
Whilst the leadership of the club seemingly has finally woken up to the fact that big bold moves whenever the shit hits the fan isn’t what is needed in order to get rid of their right wing support, the current members don’t seem to be particularly fond of the club’s current leadership. Right now Chemnitzer FC are in administration and insolvency administrator Klaus Siemon is trying his best to keep the club afloat.
Alongside Siemon there was a crisis head of board and a few financiers willing to give the club a chance. On Monday night these people expected the club members to elect their candidates for the vacant positions on the supervisory board of the club. Siemon and the others wanted their list of candidates elected as one item.
However, the members of CFC turned that proposition down and decided that every seat needed to be filled by a popular vote. That decision caused some candidates to retract their candidacy and in the end not enough people were elected to the vacant positions to give the club a functioning supervisory board. Without a new supervisory board in place the club can’t get a new functioning board in place, meaning that as of now CFC are leaderless.
This happened despite Klaus Siemon threatening to liquidate the club if his list of candidates shouldn’t win. However, it seems like the insolvency administrator has had a re-think and is now willing to give CFC one last chance to survive. According to the Chemnitz paper Freie Presse, Siemon is on the verge of forming a new crisis board from which the club could be lead.
Whether those measures are going to save Chemnitzer FC remains to be seen. After the match against Altglienicke the club was left by its long term sponsor Sparkasse Chemnitz. Furthermore, securing the club good income from sponsorship has become almost impossible according to Udo Pfeiffer, one of the investors trying to save the club. Pfeiffer told dpa about the aftermath of the match against Altglienicke:
“Ever since we have had giant problems when it comes to sponsoring. The business plan of the company isn’t worth the piece of paper that it is written on since that day.”
With such a starting point, it seems rather unlikely that Siemon’s last ditch effort to safe the club from the bankruptcy is going to be successful. Add to that the toxic element of right wing supporters playing a major role in the stands, and one does start to wonder if this club is even worth saving given its negligence in getting rid of the neo-nazis in the stands.
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