FC Schalke 04 legend, Yves Eigenrauch, spoke out recently about his experiences of dealing with racists whilst playing for the German Bundesliga side. The frank debate formed part of the FARE sponsored Mondiali Antirazzisti (The anti-racist world cup) – an antiracist football festival held each year in Italy.
Yves Eigenrauch, who won the UEFA Cup in 1997, re-called how he got involved in anti-racism at the beginning of the 1990s:
“At that time we could hear the monkey chants against the black players when we entered the pitch. I also knew the problem from my own days at school, where we had lots of Turkish kids. So, when the Schalker Faninitiative asked Andreas Müller, Jens Lehmann and myself in 1992, we agreed to hand out flyers against racism in the shopping streets of Gelsenkirchen.”
Eigenrauch was joined by Heiko Schlesselmann at the debate, a supporter and anti-racist activist of FC St. Pauli Hamburg, who described the situation in the German third divison:
“At every away match we are greeted by Nazi hooligans, since we have the reputation of being a left-wing football club. These neo-Nazis bring all their symbols and t-shirts into the stadiums and the third league clubs seem not to care about it.”
“In April we played in Chemnitz in East Germany and we were not allowed to raise a banner to commemorate the liberation form Nazism 60 years ago, whilst at the same time the Chemnitz fans displayed a Reichskrieg-Flag with an 88 symbol, which stands for HH, Heil Hitler. The stewards and police seem to be blind on only one eye.”
Eigenrauch, who played 229 games for Schalke 04, is a shining example the fight against racism at his club. On one occasion when he was injured, Eigenrauch confronted a Schalke fan in the crowd who was waving a racist flag. The fan was later given a stadium ban.