December 14, 2017

Violent German football fans could lose their driving license in the future

Picture taken by Kenny Legg of the excellent blog adventuresintinpot.co.uk.

Fifteen fans in Oberhausen are currently involved in a legal battle with the city that could determine how violent football fans are going to be punished in the future. According to an article by Deutschlandfunk the group of Ultras was asked to turn up to a medical and psychological evaluation to determine whether or not they should be allowed to keep their driver licenses. The test itself is popularly called “Idiotentest” by most Germans, i.e. a test to determine if the person at hand is an idiot.

The city of Oberhausen cites in letters sent out to the fans that they had been violent in regards of their footballing activities, which in turn could mean that they’d show a high level of aggression and act emotionally impulsive when driving a car. The Ultras are even labelled as hooligans by the city in the letter, but after showing their extended police records to Deutschlandfunk the media outlet can reveal that only 2 of the 15 fans at hand have been punished by the courts in Germany. Only one fan has been found guilty of a violent crime (aggravated assault). Additionally some of the group members are currently tried in court over other offences.

One of the fans interviewed by Deutschlandfunk revealed that he had been in a meeting with the city’s officials with a rather surprising result. Peter K. tells the media outlet:

“Upon receiving the letter we got in touch with the fan project. They are working together with the city’s youth welfare services and we sat down together with them. Those guys managed to get us a meeting with the city’s road and traffic authorities. After they received a bit of information from my side, among other things that we hadn’t been sentenced by any court so far, their mood changed and they were rather surprised.”

Peter K. goes on stating that he needs to be able to drive a car in order to keep his job. After their protests the ultras have now managed to make the city go back to re-evaluate their cases individually.

Rot Weiss Oberhausen and fans elsewhere aren’t amused

Thorsten Binder, member of the Rot Weiss Oberhausen board, says in a statement to Deutschlandfunk that the authorities are taking this matter too far:

“Whatever I’ve done wrong I have to endure from a legal point of view. A judge is going to decide whether or not it is justified. Additionally I have to assume that I’ll be banned from the stadium, and most of the times we do have to ban these fans from our ground. And the third thing is the medical and psychological evaluation, which is another punishment on top of that which could lead to the loss of the driver license. Wow, if I’m giving my personal take on the matter: It’s a bit too much. Because, you putting somebody’s work at danger and it impacts the person’s livelihood.”

Philip Krüger, spokesperson for the federal group of fan projects, is shocked by the steps taken by the authorities:

“I have to say I’m very much surprised by what I’m hearing from Oberhausen. It’s the first time that I have heard of such a case. For me it seems like one is trying to get to the group by putting them through the medical and psychological evaluation. Apparently one hasn’t been able to keep them away from the world of football by simply banning them from the stadium.”

Troubled relations

Fans all around Germany are now fearing that other police departments are going to follow in the city of Oberhausen’s footsteps if the authorities there manage to be successful in their endeavour. Many ultra groups have strained relationships with the police itself and don’t trust German authorities to treat them fairly.

Adding another potential punishment to the already long list is not going to go down well with these groups.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.