FIFA, German Delegation Condemn Hooligans
Officials of FIFA and the German delegation on Monday condemned the actions of German hooligans who severely beat a French policeman with an iron bar in the northern French city of Lens Sunday night after Germany’s 2-2 draw with Yugoslavia.
The incident left Daniel Nivel, 44, in a coma and on a respirator at a hospital in Lille. A 27-year-old man from Hanover, Germany, was arrested and today will be placed under formal investigation, the French equivalent of being charged. Suspected accomplices were being sought.
Police said the marauders were organized and sober and used cellular phones to advise each other when to disperse and reconvene. Neo-Nazis and skinheads also reportedly took part in the violence.
Nearly 100 people, mostly German, were detained by police for their actions before and after the game. Six Germans were deported.
The games have been played without incident, but outbreaks of violence threaten to ruin the tournament’s hoped-for spirit of sportsmanship and friendship.
Said Berti Vogts, coach of the German team: “If it could have meant saving the policeman from his injuries, I would rather have lost the match to Yugoslavia.”
A German delegate at a meeting of FIFA’s emergency committee on Monday offered to withdraw the team, but FIFA President Sepp Blatter rejected that.
After its meeting Monday, FIFA announced it will work with political authorities in various countries, including those of the European Union, to prevent hooligans from causing further damage.
French authorities have introduced accelerated justice to deal with problems at the 10 World Cup sites, with justices available to mete out punishments to offenders within 48 hours. “We are not afraid, we are concerned,” Blatter said.