Many St. Pauli fans who traveled to his club’s away match at Arminia Bielefeld in November never actually got in to the SchücoArena. According to social media reports, someone was smoking on the train that St. Pauli fans were on. Police officers demanded the person gave them their details, but the demand was refused.
The situation escalated, and the officers ended up using pepper spray indiscriminately within the crowded carriage, according to witnesses and Amnesty Polizei, the branch of the human rights organization that deals with the police.
According to Amnesty Polizei, upon their arrival at Bielefeld’s main station, some 300 fans – most of whom were not involved in the events on the train and some of whom were minors – were told they could not attend the game and they would have been held at the station for a period of about seven hours.
The police says some St. Pauli fans did not like being escorted to the game on a regional train, and the situation escalated to “constant pushes.” The person allegedly responsible did not want to identify himself/herself, and the rest of the group showed solidarity with them.
So the police decided to hold 400 people (#FCSP fans reported online) at the train station, letting them know that they will not attend the game today, and that their details will be taken until the person responsible is found.
“Police differentiate between peaceful fans and troublemakers,” the Interior Ministry of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) told the media, adding that it’s the “police’s duty” to prevent danger.
However, Rene Lau, a member of AG Fananwälte, an association of lawyers that provides legal aid to football fans, thinks the fans’ feelings of persecution are legitimate.
“We notice that police are more offensive and aggressive, also due to the escalatory tones of the state interior ministers,” Lau told DW.
“It’s unlawful, It’ll never happen, but it sets the tone,” said Martin Endemann, spokesperson of Germany’s active fan alliance (BAFF). According to him, the current wave of criticism of fan behavior “isn’t backed by statistics.”
The statistics Endemann refers to are data collected by the police’s Office for Sports Operations (ZiS). According to the ZiS, the number of criminal proceedings was down by 13 percent in the 2017-18 season, from 8,023 to 6,921. In Germany’s top two divisions, the drop is by more than 19 percent, from 6,637 proceedings in 2016-17 to 5,401 in 2017-18. However, the number of custodial measures, that for the most part do not require a judiciary process, was up by nine percent.
Furthermore, the 2017-18 report suggests 53 people were injured due to the use of pyrotechnics across Germany’s top three leagues. The number of people injured by the police’s use of pepper spray was almost triple that (141).
This was St. Pauli official reaction to what happened to many club’s supporters at Bielefeld railway station.
Unfortunately, many St. Pauli supporters were unable to see the win because they were held back at Bielefeld railway station by the police. We object! #fcsp
— FC St. Pauli English (@fcstpauli_EN) November 4, 2018