Schalke Ban Nearly 500 Dortmund Fans for 5 Years After Crowd Trouble

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

Dortmund fans throw fireworks on the pitch during the German soccer Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Schalke have taken the decision to ban 498 Borussia Dortmund fans from the Veltins-Arena after violence marred the Revierderby on Oct. 26.

As reported by Reuters via Yahoo! Eurosport, a portion of Dortmund fans are prohibited from entering the premises until at least 2019:

"The stadium bans are against visiting fans in the derby who on purpose cause trouble and endanger the safety of all fans, players and officials in the stadium," read a statement from Schalke.

Such a decision has been forced upon the Gelsenkirchen club after a string of recent incidents during the fiercely contested fixture.

Smoke bombs from the Dortmund end delayed kick-off last time out, while flares were also thrown from the away end and toward Schalke fans, per Raphael Honigstein of The Guardian:

"At that moment I was ashamed of our supporters," said Klopp after the final whistle. "We won despite these missiles, not because of them." The Dortmund chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, spoke of "antisocial behaviour" that was "intolerable and unacceptable".

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

While Honigstein suggests flare-throwing is "seen as a bit of harmless fun by many of the Ultras" who take part, such activity has the capacity to put supporters in serious danger.

Prior to the aforementioned match—which Dortmund won 3-1—around 180 arrests were made, per Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC. Eleven were injured during fights, including eight police officers, in exchanges that saw "bottles and paint bombs" thrown toward Schalke fans.

"Both Schalke and Dortmund supporters had the highest potential for violence and aggression in years," Dortmund police director Michael Stein revealed to Ruhr Nachrichten before the match, per Uersfeld's article.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

As noted in Yahoo! Eurosport's report, the decision to ban so many fans comes after Schalke supporters clashed with Cologne followers during a recent friendly match. One man was seriously injured during the incident, which doesn't help boost the profile of German football on a global scale.

The Bundesliga has received plenty of recognition across the past few years—summed up by Bayern Munich's ability to win five trophies throughout 2013, and indeed, their Champions League final clash against Dortmund—but the league's growing reputation threatens to be overshadowed if violence persists.

While it is almost certainly the minority spoiling proceedings, it will be interesting to see whether Schalke's banning measures eradicate repeat offences during the side's next tie with Dortmund on March 25.

The extreme measures should be seen as a necessary, if disappointing, response to a climate that could potentially result in death if no action is taken.