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German FA investigates racist chants at match

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, Mar 29 (Reuters) Germany's Football Association (DFB) will investigate a soccer match in the east German city of Halle in which a Nigerian player was the target of racist taunts from fans and responded with a stiff-armed Hitler salute.

German authorities requested a report from the Northeastern Football Federation on the events surrounding the Oberliga (fourth division) match between Halle and Leipzig on Saturday.

Leipzig defender Adebowale Ogungbure, a Nigerian national, was taunted by spectators throughout the match and assaulted as he left the pitch. He countered by making a Nazi salute.

''We take any disputes of a racist nature very seriously,'' DFB chief Theo Zwanziger said in a statement on Wednesday.

''Despite the fact that events like those seen in Halle occur only occasionally among the approximately 80,000 soccer games which take place in Germany each weekend, we give them our fullest attention,'' Zwanziger said.

Making a Hitler gesture is illegal in Germany. However, an investigation into the 25-year-old Nigerian's gesture has been dropped because prosecutors say Ogungbure was acting in protest rather than in support of a banned political organisation.

Police will now review security video footage to seek out the abusive spectators.

Germany said this month it was taking seriously the possibility that right-wing radicals and neo-Nazis might try to disrupt this years soccer World Cup and has vowed to clamp down on racism. The tournament starts on June 9.

Reuters DH DB2133

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