The defensive handling of a serious case of anti-Semitism now has serious consequences for the club CFC Hertha 06. Berlin’s politicians are taking full action against the upper division club, which now fears for its existence.
“In a few weeks we will know if the club still exists.” That’s what Karl-Heinz Wagener says. The 79-year-old is President of CFC Hertha 06 in Berlin. Since the club, including Wagener himself, according to several authorities and associations, have so far not distanced themselves enough from the anti-Semitic events in November 2022, they are now targeting the club.
“It’s obvious that anti-Semitic structures have grown there over the years,” said Charlottenburg’s deputy mayor, Heike Schmitt-Schmelz. “We’re not just standing by and not doing anything to counteract it.”
After the sports court of the Berlin Football Association (BFV) banned the vice president of the entire club and chairman of the football department Ergün Çakır from all offices for two years, the club itself is now threatened with severe sanctions.
The first measure taken by the district administration: Schmitt-Schmelz had the lock for the club casino on the sports field on Brahestraße replaced during an inspection on Thursday. From now on, the association is prohibited from operating and selling all food and drinks. “When preventive measures against anti-Semitism are finally introduced, we’ll be ready to talk again,” said the SPD politician.
The main point is that she has the impression that the club is not distancing itself from Çakır. Schmitt-Schmelz had demanded his dismissal. Çakır’s son, along with another player, was banned by the sports court for two years because of anti-Semitic statements in the A youth game Hertha 06 against TuS Makkabi in November 2022. Afterwards, Çakır said in an interview with Sportschau and Sport inside: “My son will hate the Jews for the rest of his life.”
No democratic structures? denial of Sports Eligibility threatens
Hertha 06 is now threatened with losing its sporting home on Brahestraße. The Senate Sports Administration in Berlin confirmed research by Sport inside, according to which a procedure to review the sporting eligibility for funding had been initiated. According to paragraph 3, paragraph 2 of the Sports Promotion Act, a prerequisite for eligibility for funding is “that the sports organization guarantees proper management and that the internal structure and activities of the sports organization correspond to democratic principles.”
The examination procedure has not yet been completed and the club has been asked to comment several times, said the press spokeswoman for the Senate Sports Administration, Sabine Beikler. “The previous admission is not meaningful in the matter,” said Beikler.
Currently, the club has asked for a further extension of the deadline, which expires at the weekend. After that, a decision will be made based on the records. “In the event of revocation of the sporting eligibility for funding, the club is denied participation in the sports funding system of the State of Berlin, in particular it can only use the public sports facilities of the State of Berlin as a different user – and thus only subordinate and subject to a fee,” it says from the Senate administration. This means that CFC Hertha 06 would have to pay for training and playing areas, from youth to the first men in the Oberliga. If he gets any at all.
antisemitic structures? Hertha 06 President: “A campaign!”
Heike Schmitt-Schmelz, also a sports councilor in Charlottenburg, welcomed the Senate’s tough course: “We took a closer look. This club has a strange structure in many parts, which you have to see very critically,” she told Sport inside. Ergün Çakır, who has headed the football department for 12 years, even refused to talk to her: “I should come to him if I want anything.” After all, two other club representatives appeared instead of him, including Wagener. The club officially said it was remorseful, but then nothing happened for months.
Two weeks ago, club president Wagener emphasized before the BFV sports court that preventive measures against anti-Semitism were not necessary – because there was no anti-Semitism at Hertha 06. Now he seemed only partially insightful to Sport inside: “Of course Ergün Çakır expressed himself and behaved unhappily, but he is not a racist or anti-Semite.”
Wagener spoke of a “campaign against the club, which is now exaggerated”. Çakır has now appealed the BFV verdict, saying he wants to make it clear that he is sorry. Most recently, however, he left the BFV sports court hearing because representatives of TuS Makkabi were also invited there. He felt provoked and threatened by them.
Over 700 members affected: “Then we have to give up”
Now the club with over 700 members is about survival, said Wagener. New elections are scheduled in six weeks. He himself, who has been a member of the board for 15 years, no longer wants to run for president: “I no longer do it to myself that I’m holding my head out for others.” Çakır had announced that he would appoint one of his sons to his post. With his construction company, he is also the main sponsor of the club that finances the Oberliga team.
“If he goes all the way, that’s it with top-class football,” said Wagener. “Then we have to give up.” Especially since the mass sports area is already suffering extremely. Hertha 06 got a “wrong image”, according to Wagener. “People are now pointing their fingers at us everywhere.” The fact that Çakır said in an interview with WDR that half of the club hates Jews is “another unfortunate statement. That’s not true.”
The district and senate are not alone in their consistent course. The Landessportbund (LSB) Berlin confirmed through its spokesman Oliver Weiß that Hertha 06 had been “threatened with the withdrawal of funding from the exercise management program”. “We haven’t canceled the funding yet, we continue to monitor the club’s behavior and reserve the right to impose appropriate sanctions,” said Weiß. Wagener, on the other hand, claims that the LSB has already frozen several thousand euros in funding.
Makkabi Germany: “There is no insight.”
The President of Makkabi Germany, Alon Meyer, once again commented on the Hertha 06 case. He welcomed the judgment of the Berlin Football Association against Çakır, as well as the actions of the LSB and the Senate. He himself had written a letter to Çakır and offered the club help: “But there is no understanding at all. We also refused a joint press statement when it became clear: Çakır obviously doesn’t really regret what happened on his sports field – and what he said.”