Toward the end of Werder Bremen's 0-0 draw with Bochum on Saturday, six members of a neo-Nazi group began to unfurl a 10-foot long banner on which it stated: "NS-HB Sport frei". NS-HB stood for Nordsturm Hansestadt Bremen, an extreme right hooligan group. But Bremen fans were having none of it and began to go after the neo-Nazis, surrounding them while shouting "Nazis out!" and pointing them out to the police.
Dieter Zeiffer, Werder Bremen's director of fan relations, was a man in demand this weekend, giving television interviews gushing with pride at the reaction of the home fans. But how the neo-Nazi hooligans (one of which is suspected of starting a January 2007 melee in the same stadium) managed to sneak such a sign into the stdaium remains unknown.
It turned out to be an act German Football Association (DFB) predident Theo Zwanziger referred to as ''civil courage,'' something all too lacking in many European stadiums today. According to the Werder Nachtrichten, some unhappy Bremen and Bochum fans wanted to let their fists do the talking with the hooligans but local police intervened quickly.
"The police had to get between them, otherwise the fans would have attacked the hooligans," said Ziffer. He went on to say that the police already had been watching the group during the match, given they were wearing what seemed to be skinhead garb. The club has now banned the Nordsturm group and its members from the stadium and a league-wide ban could be in the offing.
Instead of watching timidly while an extremist group tried to use their stadium as a billboard for hate, Werder Bremen fans took action to defend their (and their league's) honor. Bravo!