The coach and players of Germany’s football team have condemned rogue fans who snuck into their match against the Czech Republic in Prague and spent the game singing Nazi songs. Officials have also called for spectator access to international games to be tightened.
The fans, thought to number about 200, bought tickets to Friday’s match unofficially, interrupted a minute’s silence for two deceased Czech officials, set off flares, sang provocative chants, and shouted the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil!” They also repeatedly booed German scorer Timo Werner, who plays for RB Leipzig, suggesting that they may have predominantly been fans of Dynamo Dresden, a rival club with a large far-right following, located less than 200km from Prague. The idea was first flagged up by Werner himself, and confirmed by further reports in multiple German media outlets, who said the fans had come from Dresden and other hotbeds of neo-Nazism in the former communist east of the country.
"I am not so much upset or sad as I am full of rage, I think that describes my feelings better," said German coach Joachim Low, whose team won 2-1 to maintain its perfect record in the qualification stages for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. "I am really very angry about what happened, that some so-called fans used the stage of an international football match to bring shame on our country with their extremely embarrassing appearance and behavior,” Low said. “I think every one of those people who is prevented from getting into the stadium is a win."
The chants were particularly embarrassing from a German perspective as they came on the anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, which started World War II in 1939.