Bundesliga side 1. FC Köln have taken drastic measures after fans lit flares and stormed the pitch following the final whistle of the Rhein Derby against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The “30 white-clad anarchists”, as Bild called them, were unauthorised pitch invaders who had scaled the 10-foot high barrier out of the visitors’ section, and onto the pitch, before riot police moved in – which resulted in one officer being injured.
In a statement released by the club on Monday morning, Köln announced that they had revoked the fan-club status of ‘boyz’, and are in the process of banning 40-known offenders from the home game against Hannover 96 at the weekend.
Lifelong Köln fan, Randall Hauk told RivalTalk in an exclusive interview: “Their actions hurt me more than did the Branimir Hrgota dive, the Granit Xhaka game-winner, or anything else. It was a huge dampener on Karneval weekend.”
The German club published photographs asking for help to identify the perpetrators, which saw a quick response from fans of the club, which boasts over 70,000 members.
“The message does need to be delivered in a dramatic way that will probably be shocking and may cause unrest among the fan groups,” said Hauk.
Köln’s reputation as a club has been tarnished as a result of the actions from the minority of supporters following the final whistle.
Hauk added: “The image of the club reaches beyond those of us who follow German football. People may not know the result of the match or even that the Mönchengladbach-Köln rivalry exists, but they’ll see those images.”
The club’s official statement read: “FC justifies its drastic measures because of repeated, intentional club-damaging behaviour from within the ranks of the Boyz.
“Leading members of the group were involved in the use of illegal pyrotechnic as well as pitch invasions after the final whistle at both the derby in Mönchengladbach as well as other mass organised events.”
The German Football Association (DFB) have also reacted on fans’ behaviour since the turn of the year. Hertha Berlin are just one from a number of clubs that have been fined due to use of pyrotechnics.
Violent scenes following the final whistle. (Video Courtesy of Football Network)
Hauk added: “Get rid of them [hooligans], and you’ve sent the right message to the DFL, which maybe helps mitigate fines in future instances, but you’ve also told the majority of the club membership and fan base that you can handle it and get back to the reason we all came in the first place: football.”
There’s no question that Köln have acted quick on the matter. Now German football followers can just hope other clubs follow suit should further incidents arise.