Government pledges hooligan scene crackdown

The federal coalition has vowed to take drastic steps after the “derby disgrace” of Vienna.Around 200 fans – many of them masked – stormed the pitch at the sold-out Gerhard Hanappi Stadium 26 minutes after kick-off on Sunday. Moments earlier, Austria Vienna star Zlatko Junuzovic had made it 2-0 for the away side. His strike tempted the hooligans to invade the field. Special police troops entered the green a few moments later. They managed to avoid the Rapid supporters reaching the Austria Vienna fan stand behind the opposite goal.The incidents sent shockwaves through Austrian society. It is not the first time that violent football fans caused a scandal, but a Vienna derby has never been abandoned early ever before. However, Sunday’s match – which was broadcast live on ORF 1 and attended by national team coach Dietmar Constantini and skiing legend Karl Schranz – was not restarted after the occurrences.Social Democratic (SPÖ) Sport Minister Norbert Darabos called for lifelong bans for the offenders today (Tues). The minister – who attended the game himself – admitted he had a sleepless night. Darabos – a Rapid Vienna member and fan – said ID check systems across Austria should be improved in various ways to ban the rioters from grounds in all provinces and cities consequently.Around 250 Austrians are considered as football hooligans not hesitant to turn to violence by officials. However, only 38 of them are currently kept from attending matches due to nationwide stadium bans.People’s Party (ÖVP) Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner branded the behaviour of the pitch-entering hooligans “not acceptable”. The minister explained she assigned a high-profile police general to create an action plan over the issue in cooperation with the Austrian Bundesliga and club representatives. Mikl-Leitner named England as a possible role model for Austria in handling the problem since the country managed to keep hooligans from stadiums with stringent measures after the game’s image had been tarnished by their brutal brawls for years.Critics already expressed concerns whether Darabos and Mikl-Leitner will manage to introduce measures which actually work out since previously convicted fans currently seem to find ways to get inside the stadiums.Rapid Vienna President Rudolf Edlinger – who called last Sunday’s incidents “inexcusable” and a “tough blow” for true Rapid supporters – promised none of those who headed the riot will get a ticket for a Rapid match ever again. Edlinger – a former SPÖ finance minister – explained that the club planned to reform its ticketing system by linking every season pass with IDs to keep hooligans out for good. Edlinger said season ticket holders will not be allowed to pass on their passes to friends if they are unable to attend a game anymore.Asked whether the occurrences will have consequences for club officials in charge with fan issues, Edlinger remained tight-lipped. He argued that such decisions should not be made “in a state of emotion. Too little time has passed to make such decisions.”Edlinger rejected calls he should resign himself over Sunday’s riot. “The captain does not leave the ship in bad times,” he said.Rapid Vienna bosses have been attacked for years for their allegedly lax fan policies while the number of violent incidents involving Rapid supporters increased both in Austria and abroad. Peaceful fan groups had called on club officials many times before the recent scandal to be stricter with offenders. Newspapers reported many times how club representatives negotiated with the police and judicial decision-makers over the hooligans’ fate after brawls to spare them tough sentences.A Football Bundesliga panel decided yesterday evening to put the 297th derby’s result down as 3-0 for Austria Vienna. This decision means the team of Karl Daxbacher retains a small chance to win the league in the final round of action set to take place tomorrow.League chiefs have not yet decided whether Rapid will have to stage some of their upcoming home matches outside Vienna or in front of empty ranks as a consequence for last Sunday’s incidents. Officials explained they were awaiting more information from the police on how it all happened. The Bundesliga’s verdict is expected next month. Rapid brace for a fine of up to 50,000 Euros. The club is expected to be forced to play in an empty venue up to four times.Sport newspapers report that the most recent match could have been the final Vienna derby staged at the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium. The dailies suggest Bundesliga and club bosses could agree on hosting all of the matches – which have a history of violence between fan groups – at Vienna’s 50,000-seat Ernst Happel Stadium.Meanwhile, Magna Wiener Neustadt ace Edin Salkic is in hot water after his handball helped his former team Sturm to a penalty three minutes from the end on Sunday. The striker touched the ball with the hand in the box without being challenged by any Sturm players. Sturm’s Samir Muratovic found the net from the penalty to keep his team on track to win a third Bundesliga title.It emerged yesterday that unusually high amounts of money were set on the match in Asia, a relatively irrelevant encounter of teams in international football. Reports have it that 200,000 Euros were invested. Press connected these activities with the odd handball by Salkic and the fact that the match was a decisive step for his ex-club to glory.The Austrian Bundesliga table after 35 of 36 rounds:Sturm Graz, 63 pointsAustria Vienna, 61Red Bull Salzburg, 60SV Ried, 55Rapid Vienna, 50Wacker Innsbruck, 50Magna Wiener Neustadt, 49Kapfenberg, 38SV Mattersburg, 30LASK Linz, 19