By Tony Attwood
While Arsenal were losing to Norwich, Schalke beat Borussia Dortmund. 200 people and eight officers were injured (in Germany nor Norfolk). Water cannon were used to stop Schalke fans from dismantling a barrier they had taken offence before the start of the game.
Before the game both Dortmund and Schalke fans launched a united attack on the police lines, followers of both clubs were tear gassed and in return attacked police who tried to segregate them. Water cannons were also deployed.
Over 1000 police officers were involved, and Dortmund fans were accused of taking apart a restaurant. However much doubt has been cast on this story even though it appears in most papers. Police had claimed a beer garden was destroyed by Dortmund followers “with furniture ripped apart and used as missiles against opposition fans and police.” But according to other sources only one plastic stool had been destroyed ahead of the match.
Police vehicles were attacked, according to reports (and again this may or may not be true although much of the UK press has got excited by the situation), so on that basis the match might have been utterly peaceful. The Schalke report makes no mention of any trouble, riot police or police dogs being brought in.
Mounted officers were “attacked by Dortmund hooligans with cobble stones”, according to police reports.
Schalke’s manager is report as saying, “That’s not what we imagined happening here. Before the game, both clubs had made a statement that we hope the rivalry would be contained to the pitch. This is not nice and can’t be accepted. Maybe at some point, we can express emotions through chanting and cheering.”
Dortmund’s police chief, Dieter Keil, said: “This has nothing to do with the enthusiasm for football and has nothing to do with what we want to see in Dortmund.”
The actual incidents read very much like the sort of thing that happened on occasion in England as away fans deliberately changed their arrival points and journey to the stadium, in order to confuse the police, whose levels of intelligence of what might happen seemed painfully small. I do remember Manchester United playing Orient in the mid-70s where a similar sort of thing happened – everyone in north London seemed to know what was going to happen – except the police. (And I don’t pick that example as a way of getting at Man U fans – it is just an incident that was perhaps of a similar type to this one, which I happen to remember).
Reports suggest some Schalke fans met at the university while another group arrived at a different train station from that which the police had prepared a welcoming committee. Police were thus wrongly positioned and their frantic journey back to find the supporters heightened the tension. (This is not to suggest anything about this is the fault of the police – merely that they got their information wrong, and so had to move at speed, which always heightens tension).
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It is also suggested that Dortmund fans had more information than the police and knew exactly where to find their city rivals.
However, initial reports of Dortmund fans destroying a beer garden ahead of the match were untrue, writes Ruhr Nachrichten. Police had claimed the beer garden was gutted by Dortmund followers “with furniture ripped apart and used as missiles against opposition fans and police.” But according to Ruhr Nachrichten sources only one plastic stool had been destroyed ahead of the match.
Inside the stadium Schalke supporters presented a stolen banner from Dortmund’s Ultra groups The Unity and Desperados. This led to both Dortmund Ultra groups trying to break through to the away section in an attempt to exact revenge but police were able to stop the fans and keep them on their side of the stadium.
So will that affect Schalke? Will Arsenal’s defeat to Norwich affect Arsenal? We know the injury list is growing:
Oxlade Chamberlain now joins the long list of absentees who won’t be available for this game so presumably the starting line up will be the same again
Carl Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen (c), Andre Santos
Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey
Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Gervinho
One thing I would add about this team is that Jenkinson seems to have come on dramatically from his more hesitant performances last season. He looks like being a remarkable buy. If there are to be any changes I guess Ramsey could be replaced by Coquelin,