Germany coach, players slam fans upon Nazi chants scandal in Czech Republic match

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
BERLIN
Published 03.09.2017 16:52
Updated 03.09.2017 17:45
Germany fans celebrate their second goal against Czech Republic with a flare at the World Cup qualifier game in Prague, Sept. 1, 2017. (Reuters Photo)
Germany fans celebrate their second goal against Czech Republic with a flare at the World Cup qualifier game in Prague, Sept. 1, 2017. (Reuters Photo)

Germany coach Joachim Loew on Sunday dubbed as "shameful" Nazi-era chanting by a hardcore group of "so-called fans" during a World Cup qualifier.

The chants of "Sieg Heil" (Hail Victory) came from a 200-strong group of traveling fans in Friday's 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague. They also whistled during the minute's silence before kick-off for two deceased Czech officials.



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.

"I can't turn directly to sporting questions without commenting on what happened in Prague," Loew said at the start of a press conference ahead of Monday's qualifier against Norway in Stuttgart, victory in which could secure Germany's place in Russia next year if nearest rivals Northern Ireland fail to beat the Czech Republic the same night in Belfast.

"I'm full of anger and I'm very much shaken to see that some so-called fans use football, and an international match, for their deplorable demonstrations. They bring shame on our country," Loew said, hailing his players' decision to not applaud the block where away fans were gathered at the end of the match, as is customary.

"I am favorable to very severe sanctions against these troublemakers. We don't want them, we're not their national team, and they're not our fans."

"Given our history, it's very important for us to represent our country in a dignified fashion and its values of tolerance, respect and openness to the world. These troublemakers demean this image."

Loew also called on fans in Stuttgart to lay off Timo Werner, who was verbally abused by German fans during the victory in Prague despite scoring the opening goal after four minutes.

The 21-year-old RB Leipzig forward is unpopular after diving to win a penalty during a controversial Bundesliga match last season at Schalke.

"This behavior by some fans is unworthy," Loew said.

"These insults against Timo are extremely painful. He made a mistake and recognized that. I now call for the public to treat him like a full-time player of the national team."

Germany players, who refused to go to the away block after the final whistle, have also blasted the fans.

"The chants were a catastrophe -- really bad," fumed Mats Hummels, whose late header in Prague maintained Germany's perfect record of seven wins from seven World Cup qualifiers.

"Timo Werner was insulted and ridiculed, that is when the fans started shouting that shit. We distance ourselves completely from it and want nothing to do with it. That's why we didn't go (to the away fans). These people aren't fans, they are trouble-makers, hooligans who have nothing to do with football fans. We have to get them out of stadiums," Hummels said.

Werner thinks the chants could have come from Dynamo Dresden supporters, arch rivals of his RB Leipzig club.

Dresden, the heartland of Germany's right-wing scene, is just 150 kilometers (93mi) from Prague.

"You know what is nearby, so you can imagine where that comes from," he said.

The DFB president Reinhard Grindel was proud of the "fine sense" the team showed in making a stance and said that a group of German fans had managed to buy tickets without the DFB's consent.

The German Football Association (DFB) hope there will be no repeat of such poor behavior from their own fans against Norway.

"We will never tolerate fascist, racist, insulting or homophobic battle cries," said Grindel.

"Together - as a team, the fans and DFB - we have to face these trouble-makers."

Werner is looking forward to playing in his home city Stuttgart, where he started his career, even if he may face more jeers and insults during the match against Norway.

"I'm looking forward to Stuttgart, even if I should face a few whistles there, I don't care. I'll just play my game," he said.

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