"I did not want to be an easy target": former Chemnitz FC sports director describes desperate fight against neo-Nazi sport

Thomas Sobotzik led Chemnitz FC as the third division sports director. Again and again, the actions of right-wing supporters have overshadowed the sporting success. The first Sobotzik fought against her – now he threw.

Mr Sobotzik, as the sports director of Chemnitzer FC, you have tried to fight right-wing extremists. But then you threw it. Why?
For me, the threat was finally too great. I do not know why you have to do that for yourself. If it was temporary and you feel that you can do it together and not nearly alone, it would have been different.

There were threats against them, on a graffiti at the stadium was "kill TS".
What we know is still only the tip of the iceberg. But if you are caught on the parking lot at the VIP exit and people are insulting or harassing you, it is a question to ask: how serious is your situation? And you can see what he took in politics partly for proportions. Probably nothing happens in 99% of the cases. But once, you do not want to be there when someone else goes crazy. I did not want that to happen.

How did you try to protect yourself?
When my wife became aware of death threats against me, she said: You do not drive me anymore. I then promised to leave my office always in the light, not to work until late at night and to go to the parking lot in the dark. In the end, I made sure I was not an easy target.

But they continued until September.
I've always thought you could do that. In sport, success can often eliminate certain things and some opponents. But then I realized: it's not a sport issue.

Club with fan problem. The logo of the Chemnitzer FC club displaying the logo located above the stadium entrance.Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / dpa

What is the power of right-wing extremists in Chemnitz?
The group is probably very manageable, but has a very dominant appearance. I know in security circles that well-trained young boys belong to the martial arts scene, that they have a certain presence and to whom others submit.

Did you really think you could replace them with a sporting success?
I hoped that the masses in the curve would rise and not give this minority the chance to so much destroy the club. But the fundamental problem is that this March 9th always not considered a problem.

That day, Chemnitz supporters in the stadium held a commemorative ceremony in honor of the world-famous neo-Nazi Thomas Haller.
I said: The lowest denominator we have to commit to is that March 9 was a disaster for the club and the region. But with many members of the active fan scene, the opinion is still the same: we only have the last honor for the deceased fan. As long as the active scene will not admit that there is a huge mistake that has almost destroyed and could destroy the club, it will be difficult for Chemnitz FC to start from scratch and to gain a new reputation. This can only be set by the active fan scene itself.

Could you have done something different?
I do not know what. The only thing that would have made my life easier would have been to put everything in perspective. For example, after being raped as Judensau, I could have said: These are individuals, I would have maybe swept under the carpet, but that is not the truth and would not be right. And I can not live with that. In addition, we were under the rights of the associations under observation anyway.

You did not just have problems with the fans. Their player, Daniel Frahn, first solidified with the far-right thugs by brandishing a typical shirt of the scene bearing the inscription "Support your local idiots". After that, he apologized.
We believed him. He quickly understood how important it was for him to be in such a drawer for him and his family. He dissolved me and told the insolvency administrator Klaus Siemon that he was unaware of the circles in which this t-shirt is located. I believed him, defended him and allowed him to return and so benefit from public reeducation.

The problem player. Daniel Frahn (M.) on July 21, 2019 in the CFC game against Waldhof Mannheim.Photo: Robert Michael / dpa

The coaches named him captain before the current season.
In the training camp, I had an individual discussion with Daniel – to find out if he knew what that responsibility was and that we had to trust him one hundred percent.

But then, Frahn went to the first leg in Halle and was next to the neo-Nazis of the city known as "Kaotic Chemnitz" in the block of supporters, who are respected by the constitution.
A player entering the fan block does not bother us at all. This is often done, even if you want to demonstrate proximity. Only: Our spokesman, Daniel, had already tried to sensitize and write, how all this was precarious and he should be careful with who he is in the block and he should not be allowed to be involved in anything – especially in prehistory. Daniel was more than forewarned.

He probably did not follow that. According to our information, he even went to the match in his private car with the main members of the group "Kaotic".
Immediately after the match, our supporters' representative, our spokesperson and the police independently informed me of a situation that required me to act after consultation and unreserved agreement with Klaus Siemon and the shareholders of Chemnitzer FC. Daniel wanted to position himself – I can not say more about it.

How did you feel?
It was as if someone was tearing our hearts apart. All that happened until then, I could protect myself with the coaches, because everything came from the outside. But if someone misleads you from the middle, it's as if a family member was cheating on you. It was totally emotional for us. I have dealt with the expulsion in detail with all the facts, images and information I had, with the team and the functional team. Two or three players had tears in their eyes.

Who's stronger at Chemnitzer FC: sports leadership or right-wing extremist group?
The club's leadership is always stronger. But clubs that are not financially thirsty must be willing to accept financial disadvantages for the good course. Because if they act against certain trends, it may be costing money – because of the lack of spectators or the lack of sponsors.

All outside. CFC fans expressed their opinion in August during the cup match against HSV.Photo: Robert Michael / dpa

What can the club do?
It would have to develop a counter-movement powerful enough to stand up to the far-right supporters. It is best that the fans clarify this internally in the block and intervene directly in something, so if the scene has adjusted. It is important for the moment that the calm ceases. Then the club must continue to show an obvious advantage. No lazy compromises can be made.

In your statement of resignation, you wrote that you were also ready to engage radical fans. Do you generally think it's a good idea?
You must speak. It's also a fan job. For example, when the fan representatives of some clubs organize trips to Auschwitz, it is enlightenment. Then you just have to make up for what has not happened at your parents 'or school' s. The simplest way is always to exclude everyone, but then we have problems on the road. The curve is the cross section of society.

How can the unterklassigen club succeed?
This is the biggest challenge for them as they do not have the resources to deal with this socio-political problem. A club like Chemnitzer FC has a mini-budget, we recently had seven full-time employees. I think the associations should perhaps be a federation or a central prevention team to support these traditional clubs. Because they are overwhelmed by various groups of fans.

Do not some clubs prefer to close their eyes?
To my knowledge no. See what it takes to make an effort is crazy.

Doubtful heroes. The fans of Chemnitz paid tribute to former Captain Frahn.Photo: Hannibal Hanschke / good-btp.com

The Chemnitzer FC was hired after the departure of the stadium announcer, who then paid tribute to the late neo-Nazi with a selected text. What do you think?
In principle, I would have no problem to recover because it is legendary. But I would have done it in different conditions. His version was still, he had only read what he had pressed into his hand. But all was on his spontaneous celebration of Daniel Frahn's T-shirt action. So I told him:
You can start again as a stadium announcer, but go in the curve before the match, as you always do, and tell people that I'm back, but it's important for me to say I also made a big mistake. would have been credible on the outside. But he was not ready for that.

How did you feel going to Chemnitz?
The most difficult moment was the meeting with the crew and the functional cabin crew. I compared it with the feeling of my first marriage, where I'm supposed to leave my children, but I think it's better that our relationship separates. Everything else was a relief.

What are you doing now
I have now provided a proof of performance under the most difficult conditions. Such a suicide mission, as was the case with Chemnitzer FC at the time, I would certainly not take back control. Because I'm realistic enough to know it, even though I did a good job, but there was a bit of luck and things did not always go as well under those circumstances. First of all, I want to deal exclusively with the most beautiful thing in the world, namely football, not politics. Because I am not a politician and I do not intend to become one.

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