The Disciplinary Committee of the Belarusian Football Federation (BFF) has postponed until May 6 its decision on penalties against FC Dynama Minsk over the display of a large neo-Nazi banner by fans during a recent home game.
At a May 3 meeting, the Disciplinary Committee decided to "request additional information," said the BFF press office.
Standing among Dynama Minsk fans, a group of more than a dozen men held the banner for much of the club’s April 28 game against Vitsyebsk FC at Dynama Stadium in downtown Minsk.
The banner bore the image of Rudolf Hess, historically known as "Adolf Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi Party" and widely venerated by neo-Nazis. The banner said, "Your Life For Us. 04.26.1894 – 08.17.1987. This Is An Example Of Faithfulness."
"This is an outrageous case for not only the soccer community but the entire Belarusian public," the Belarusian Football Federation (BFF)’s press office quoted Uladzimir Vitushka, chairman of the BFF Disciplinary Committee, as saying. Police will find the perpetrators and the "most serious measures" will be taken against them and the club, Mr. Vitushka said.
If the incident is found to meet the definition of an administrative offense or a criminal offense, the perpetrators may be barred from the stadium until the end of the season, which has recently begun, and the club may be fined up to 10,000 times the Base Rate, or 350 million rubels ($118,000), Mr. Vitushka said. "We will take all circumstances into consideration and proceed from the principles of reasonableness and justice," he said.
In a letter to BFF Chairman Henadz Nyavyhlas, a group of Dynama Minsk fans blamed the incident on "pro-Nazi" extremists who entered the stadium "under the guise" of the club’s supporters.
Since the game was played on a workday, "key representatives" of the Dynama Minsk fan community were absent from it and unable to prevent this disgrace to "the Dynama fans, the club itself and all Belarusian people," the group said.
On behalf of the "true" fans of Dynama Minsk, the group offered their "sincere apologies" to the World War II veterans and the whole Belarusian nation, and promised to find the "provocateurs" and ensure that such incidents never happen again.
In an official statement, FC Dynama Minsk expressed indignation and shock over the incident and described it as a "provocation directed against the club, its fans and the Belarusian soccer community in general."
FC Dynama Minsk is ready to cooperate with the police in every way possible for the people "who use soccer to promote Nazism and who smear the reputation of the club to be found and brought to account," the statement said.