Nazi chants take shine off German progression

BERLIN • Germany's players have blasted a hardcore group of fans for shouting Nazi-era chants during a World Cup qualifier, as the world champions hope to secure a Finals berth today.

The side have three qualifiers left but can wrap up their place at next year's tournament in Russia by beating Norway in Stuttgart today, if nearest rivals Northern Ireland fail to beat the Czech Republic at the same time in Belfast.

However, the behaviour of a group of travelling fans in Friday's 2-1 win against the Czechs has shocked Joachim Low's team.

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.

Mats Hummels' late header in Prague maintained Germany's perfect record of seven wins from seven qualifiers. But the result was tainted by the chants, while German fans whistled during the minute's silence before kick-off for two deceased Czech officials.

Germany striker Timo Werner was also verbally abused by a 200-strong group of travelling supporters 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.

The Germany players refused to go to the away block after the final whistle, as is customary.

"The chants were really bad," fumed Hummels. "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."

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

Dresden, the heartland of Germany's right-wing scene, is just 150km from the Czech capital.

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

German Football Association president Reinhard Grindel said that a group of German fans had managed to buy tickets without the federation's consent and that he hoped there will be no repeat of such poor behaviour by their own fans against Norway.

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

Werner is looking forward to playing in his home city, where he started his career, even if he faces more jeers and insults.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Nazi chants take shine off German progression'. Subscribe