Ultras bring the police to their knees: plan against fan violence fails before it is even implemented

Ultras bring the police to their knees: plan against fan violence fails before it is even implemented

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Lucerne football fans in the guest sector of St. Gallen. Forbidden.
Tobias Brugmann And Carlo Emanuele Frezza

Suddenly, FC Luzern fans are in St. Gallen’s Kybun Park on Easter Monday. The ball is already rolling while they prepare their choreo. A bang. White confetti flies through the air and pyros are ignited.

Actually a normal scene. As can be seen week after week in a guest sector. But this time something is significantly different. Because the sector is effectively closed. The reason is a match between the two rivals in May 2023. After the final whistle, a riot broke out in the center of Lucerne. The fans threw petards, bottles, stones and torches at the police, and sometimes at passers-by.

The cantonal judges and police directors took action and closed the host sectors for the clubs’ respective matches in the current season. But the measure failed spectacularly. How could this happen?

The arrival

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The Lucerne fans will arrive on Monday afternoon – not in a special train. You take a normal connection via Zurich and Wil SG and get off at the local train station Winkeln, which is a few minutes’ walk from the stadium.

But the St. Gallen city police are already waiting for them. Her spokesperson Dionys Widmer does not reveal when and how she found out about the trip – “for police tactical reasons”. Exactly this: “We expected more than 10 to 20 fans to come.”

When the fans get out and want to walk towards Kybunpark, the police officers are waiting for them with vehicles and keep an eye on them. Shortly before the stadium, people from Lucerne stop. “There were provocations from the fans, some of which remained hidden,” said police spokesperson Widmer.


Only then – about 15 minutes before kick-off – was it decided to open up the guest sector. «The Lucerne fans had valid tickets for other sectors. To guarantee the safety of the other competition visitors, we have opened the guest sector,” Widmer explains. It was also not possible to detain the Lucerne players in front of the stadium for a longer period of time: “That would have been too dangerous.”

Police spokesperson Widmer defends the approach. “This was the only way we could guarantee the safety of all racegoers.” He does not want to accept the accusation they have made to the radical Lucerne fans: “We must ensure that everyone can watch the match as safely as possible.”

That’s what the authorities and politicians say

The city councilor and security director of St. Gallen, Sonja Lüthi (43), also protects the police. The decision was not taken lightly. “But it was reasonable and proportionate in terms of safety.” One thing is clear: further measures will be necessary in future closures of the guest sector, especially when stadiums are sold out.

The near-escalation in St. Gallen is just the latest chapter in a drama that has been unfolding between the two clubs, their fans and the police since the ban on the guest sector following the May 2023 riot.


Shortly afterwards, in August, the two teams met again. Even then, Lucerne residents traveled to St. Gall with tickets for the stands next to the closed guest sector. The people of Lucerne didn’t care that there were many families there: they threw beer cans and lit pyros.

FC Luzern responded to this in the next game on their own field. Together with the local authorities, it was decided at the time that there would be no online ticket sales and that one person at the counter would not be allowed to buy more than four tickets.

This was also considered in St. Gallen for Easter Monday, but ultimately not implemented. “Measures on ticket sales were lifted in consultation with the authorities,” the FCSG explained early on Tuesday evening. The reason: Guest fans in Lucerne also bought tickets in other sectors, the club says.

That’s true, but at the time considerably fewer people came from St. Gall to Lucerne than the other way around. Which may also have something to do with the difficulty in selling tickets. This time, however, all tickets were sold long before the match day.


The residents of Lucerne were now allowed to enter the guest sector – where the beer and food stalls were already in operation. “Since the Lucerne fans had valid tickets for B3, they only had to move equipment and personnel to the guest sector,” the FCSG explained. According to the club, the fact that the catering industry in the guest sector has functioned excellently from the start is not an indication that a decision was made to open the sector long before the match.

And now?

From next season, a four-phase cascade model, developed by the Conference of Police and Justice Directors (KKJPD), will guarantee safety in the stadiums. In the event of a sector closure, ticket sales for the entire stadium must be stopped at the same time.

However, this is no guarantee that fans will not arrive. Not only the clubs share this opinion. The city police support the closure of the sectors and the new cascade model, emphasizes Dionys Widmer, spokesperson for the St. Gallen city police. But: “On Monday it became clear once again that closing sectors in a full stadium is hardly possible because there are no alternative places.”

What is needed now is thorough preparation, which will begin in the coming days, Widmer says. The KKKPD says: “Any findings from current events, such as yesterday’s match in St. Gallen, will be taken into account.” They do not want to comment on the decisions of the authorities in St. Gallen.


Does FCSG chairman Matthias Hüppi (66) say more? Then only on Wednesday afternoon. The club then invites you to the usual matchday press conference with coach Peter Zeidler (61) – and states in the invitation that the club chairman will be available for an interview.

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I am Liam Livingstone and I work in a news website. My main job is to write articles for the 24 Instant News. My specialty is covering politics and current affairs, which I'm passionate about. I have worked in this field for more than 5 years now and it's been an amazing journey. With each passing day, my knowledge increases as well as my experience of the world we live in today.

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