Dortmund agrees to keep 25,000-capacity south stand empty

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) " Borussia Dortmund has accepted a sanction for trouble caused by some of its fans and will keep its 24,454-capacity south stand empty for its next Bundesliga game at home.

The club said Monday that its agreement to also pay a 100,000 euro ($106,000) fine is "based on our conviction that it is neither possible nor meaningful to hold a debate on a 'reasonable,' 'necessary,' 'appropriate,' or 'perspicacious' punishment from a legal perspective in the current emotionally charged atmosphere."

The Westfalenstadion's south stand is the largest terrace for standing spectators in Europe, regularly sold out for Bundesliga games. Wolfsburg's visit on Saturday is the game affected.

"We also see the danger that the refusal of the penalty or parts of it by the BVB (Dortmund) could be misinterpreted as the club's lack of insight into the gross misconduct of parts of the fans. This impression would be fatal!" the club said on its website.

The German soccer federation asked for the sanction to be imposed for banners and insults against Leipzig on Feb. 4 as well as previous disturbances against Mainz, Hoffenheim, and the away game in Leipzig.

The DFB said it could not impose sanctions for incidents outside stadiums " several Leipzig fans were injured in attacks involving stones and bottles at the last home game " but it held the club responsible for what happens inside.

Dortmund already had a suspended sanction of a partial closure of the south stand following previous misdemeanors.

Dortmund runs several initiatives in cooperation with fans to cut down on violence around games but the latest incidents are a reminder that some of its extreme supporters still see soccer as a channel for hooliganism.

On Saturday, about 90 of its fans apparently intent on violence were prevented from traveling to Darmstadt by police who said they stopped two buses of fans armed with flares, combat gloves, balaclavas, painkillers, drugs and Darmstadt banners.

"It was quickly apparent that the passengers wanted to go to Darmstadt for other reasons than to follow the soccer game peacefully in the stadium," police in the state of Hessen said in a statement.

Some of those detained were known hooligans, police said.

Dortmund has repeatedly voiced its opposition to violence and hooliganism.

The club said it considers "disproportionate" the closure of the south stand, "a collective punishment against 25,000 spectators, of which the overwhelming majority cannot be blamed or accused."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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