South African police and organisers are concerned that England’s match with Germany in the round of 16 match at Bloemfontein on Sunday (June 27) could see German hooligans clash with English ones.

Last night, within minutes of Germany finishing top of Group D and setting up this all too familiar confrontation in world football, e-mails were being sent from Soccer City to officials at Bloemfontein advising on the steps they should take to ensure that this World Cup, which has been free of the scourge of hooliganism, does not see its return at this match.

This follows the behaviour of about a thousand strong contingent of German fans at the Germany-Ghana clash who were intent on making clear their views on the English and provoking trouble.

But for the intervention of an official there could have been a serious crowd disorder problem.

This group of German fans, nearly all skinheads, wearing rings and jewellery, some with studs in their jeans, had gathered at a corner of one of the main stands and throughout the match kept shouting in English:”If you hate the fucking English clap your hands.”

They refused to sit down despite numerous pleas by the police.

When the South African police waded into the crowd to try and remove a fan there was an explosive reaction from his fellow Germans.

The situation was calmed down by an official who persuaded the police to let the fan stay and eventually the crowd quietened down.

Nevertheless they refused to sit or stop their abuse of the English.

When told by the official to desist, the German fans replied in German that was part of their “Deutsche Kulture”.

One South Africa 2010 official told me: “What concerns us that fans in Europe are segregated. This has never been the case in South Africa. In the apartheid days fans were segregated, but that was by colour not their support for rival teams. At this World Cup fans of different countries are happily mingling together and sitting next to each other without any problems. But if such Germans fans were seated next to some English fans then the consequences could be explosive. Also, our police have no experience in dealing with such situations. They tend to wade in and that could cause even more problems.”

Interestingly, the official who was also at the England versus United States match at Rustenburg did not find any evidence that any organised group of potential English hooligans had made the trip to South Africa.

But, in the face of German provocation of the kind seen in Soccer City last night, some of the English, who have clashed with Germans before at such international encounters, could be expected to react.

The South Africans are working on a plan to isolate these German fans in a corner of the Free State Stadium and make sure they are kept well away from any English fans.


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