Team wins injunction against harassers
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Team wins injunction against harassers

BERLIN – An anti-Semitic incident has led to chaos in amateur soccer in the German capital — and there seems to be no resolution in sight.

What started as an extreme example of harassment on the field has led to the advancement of the TuS Makkabi team within the amateur ranks. It’s not exactly what officials of the Jewish team had in mind when they protested against the anti-Semitic behavior of fans last fall.

Beyond the question of anti-Semitism among teams and fans in lower leagues, the issue is a matter of German sport etiquette: For the first time, a team — Makkabi — has gone outside the sports court to resolve a dispute; and, on Aug. 10, the Berlin district court issued a temporary injunction in their favor.

It all started in September ‘006, when home-team fans of Altglienicke II chanted "Death to the Jews," "synagogues must burn," and "we’re building a subway line to Auschwitz!" during a game against its 8th division B-level opponents, Makkabi TuS, a Jewish team founded decades prior to the rise of the Nazis. No one made an attempt to stop the anti-Semitic catcalls, according to media reports.

Makkabi captain Vernen Liebermann was ejected after he criticized the referee for not intervening; Lieberman then pulled his team off the field, in the 78th minute. The game was suspended. Makkabi board president Tuvia Schlesinger called it the "worst thing that has happened to a Jewish club since the Hitler dictatorship in Germany," and then turned to the local sport court.

That sport court reprimanded the Altglienicke team and its directors, required the players to attend an anti-racism seminar, and ordered a replay of the game on neutral ground. The rematch took place in March ‘007. During the game, Altglienicke bent the rules and inserted members of its own top team into the ranks of its junior team. Again, Makkabi turned to the sports court.

In April, Makkabi was awarded extra points and advanced to the next highest amateur league — the A league — leaving Altglienicke in the dirt, and mad.

Altglienicke then appealed, pointing to a loophole that allowed the insertion of top team members into the lower level team. In July, the sports court found in favor of Altglienicke, reversing the bonus points for Makkabi.

As a result, Makkabi would merely advance within the B league. Schlesinger called this an "absurdity." And thus Makkabi became the first sports club to go outside the sports court for a resolution. On Aug. 10 the Berlin District Court issued a temporary injunction, allowing the Makkabi team to advance to the A level.

Schlesinger said that the sports court had made so many procedural errors, that he had no choice but to go around it. "Are we being treated this way," he said, "because we are an association with Jewish roots?"

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