Police in Berlin are planning for the worst and expect militant fans from Greece and Russia to possibly cause rioting in the German capital at the Euroleague Final Four from May 1-3.
May 1 is Labour Day in Germany, and riots traditionally break out in a number of cities throughout the country – including Berlin – as demonstrations have been known to get out of control.
Now, Berlin police officials are coming up with extra security plans for the Euroleague Final Four. And the fact that fans from Greece and Russia will be coming to the basketball spectacle has German authorities worried.
“We will have to wait and see,” police spokesman Frank Millert said in the German newspaper TAZ.
The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel said O2 World arena officials are in talks with police about extra security for the event. O2 spokesmen added that exact plans are scheduled to be completed later this week.
The Berlin paper added that the German capital could have the feeling of a big football match with a number of police officials with police dogs at train stations and on the streets, while authorities in civilian dress will be observing known hooligans. The police spokesman also said that once the final participant – Barcelona or Tau Ceramica – is known, authorities may discuss if and how foreign officials can be used in Berlin.
While Russian fans of CSKA Moscow are a cause for alarm for the German police, the biggest concern for police is Olympiacos facing fierce rivals Panathinaikos in the semifinals on May 1. Panathinaikos was fined 14,500 euros last weekend after fans lit flares inside the arena, used laser pointers and threw objects onto the court. Tagesspiegel noted that supporters of the opposing teams have not been allowed into the arenas of the rivals for security reasons for years, and that a fan died during a game between the two clubs’ women’s volleyball teams in 2007.
Berlin on Monday night was the site of some 100 leftist extremists rioting in protest of the NATO summit with cars set afire and Molotov cocktails and stones thrown at buildings. The Berlin head of the German police union, Bodo Pfalzgraf, said he was worried about the near future, telling the Berlin Morgenpost: “Hopefully, May 1 will not be as heated as the signs show.”
Besides the Final Four semifinals, Berlin on May 1 will also be hosting 25 events associated with May Day. Most of these are anti-right extremism or anti-capitalist in nature, including registered demonstrations with names like the “Revolutionary May 1 Demonstration” at Oranienplatz and “Capitalism is crisis and war” at Kottbusser Tor. There is also a demo registered titled “Abolish capitalism” scheduled for 2-10:30 p.m. at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, not far from the o2 World arena.
And the federal executive board of the pan-German nationalist and right extremist party NPD is planning to mobilize its members for a rally at Mandrellaplatz in Köpenick.