1. FC Köln face UEFA penalty: consequences “not yet foreseeable”

The Nice scandal is keeping 1. FC Köln busy. These were not the first incidents, so severe penalties are imminent.

Steffen Baumgart always makes a stable impression, likes brave football and loud announcements. Nice’s “naked violence” also pushed the coach of 1. FC Köln to his limits. “I don’t think I’m the most anxious person,” said a battered Baumgart the day after, “but I think I need quite a while to process it. It will stay with me for a long time.”

His team’s 1-1 (1-0) draw in the Conference League at OGC Nice was not a normal football game, the riots in the stands before kick-off pushed the sporting aspect into the background. Baumgart, banned from yellow and red, was already standing in his box and saw everything up close: “What I experienced was just naked violence. It was all about harming people.”

The “disgusting events” (President Werner Wolf) should also have consequences for the club. Because parts of their own fan scene remain a huge problem, especially internationally, a devastating picture is gradually emerging.

Cologne has only played five away games in the past 30 years on the European stage – three times FC supporters caused some bad scenes: In 2017/2018 UEFA had to react to the misconduct of some supporters in London and Belgrade, now Cologne fans are beating in Nice.

After riots in Nice: Gabriel sees the situation worsening”

According to fan expert Michael Gabriel, the riots during the Conference League game between OGC Nice and 1. FC Köln are the result of a long-term upgrade in the ultra and hooligan scenes. “We are currently observing an aggravation of the situation, which is worrying,” said the head of the fan projects coordination office Rheinische Post.

Cologne supporters had violent clashes with French fans in front of and in the stadium. “For several years now, martial arts have been increasingly trained in parts of the scenes, and the willingness to use violence in the context of games and not only in agreed ‘matches’ away from the stadiums is increasing,” said Gabriel: “During Corona, a presentation area was lost, and it there is obviously some catching up to do in order to position oneself in relation to the other scenes.”

The coordination office for fan projects is located at the German Sports Youth in Frankfurt am Main. It was set up in 1993 to support and coordinate fan projects at the clubs. It is financed by the federal government, the DFB and the DFL.

1. FC Köln: Penalty by UEFA?

To make matters worse: After the incidents in Belgrade, UEFA had actually already decided to exclude Cologne fans from the next away game, but withdrew this after the club objected.

What UEFA now makes of it is initially “pure speculation,” said Cologne’s managing director Christian Keller. The proceedings were officially opened on Friday, and FC is being investigated for three different violations: “throwing objects”, “lighting fireworks” and “riots in the crowd”. There are even eight points of suspicion against the French hosts. A first, smaller decision was already made on Friday: Next Thursday’s home game against 1. FC Slovacko from the Czech Republic was upgraded to a risky game by UEFA.

Many aspects are worth mentioning, but are unlikely to help the club. Almost all of the 8,000 Cologne fans behaved peacefully and even attacked the violent criminals when they returned to the block. “We’re from Cologne and you’re not,” echoed the stadium. The violence is by no means representative.

It may also have originated in front of the stadium, where there are said to have been knife attacks by Nice fans. In addition, fans of the OGC archrival Paris St. Germain are said to have mingled with the people of Cologne and played an active role. One of these men fell from the upper tier, but is now probably out of danger.

Baumgart: “They looked right through me”

Keller was “stunned” but initially asked for time to work through. Numerous pictures and videos show the violence with which Cologne’s chaotic people acted, but that also applied to home fans and even to stewards.

On the way to the riots, masked people in Cologne colors walked right past Baumgart’s box. “I thought I could counteract it and I tried,” said the coach, “but they looked right through me.”

FC President Wolf now promised: “We will put all our energy into investigating and take action against the perpetrators with all consistency.” However, it is quite possible that UEFA will no longer be interested in Cologne away fans.


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