England's war songs won't offend Germany

England supporters say Germans would not get offended if they sing about World War II.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 13:47 IST

An England soccer supporters group said that citizens of World Cup host Germany won't get offended if they hear fans singing about World War II.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has asked England fans not to sing soccer chants that reference the "The Dam Busters", a 1954 film based on real-life incidents of British planes bombing Germany during the war.

Eriksson said supporters should be "respectful ambassadors" during the June 9-July 9 event and refrain from singing such songs. But some plan to ignore Eriksson's request.

"Singing the Dam Busters tune or 10 German bombers is not illegal so you won't be arrested," said Kevin Miles, international co-ordinator of the Football Supporters' Federation.

"What is illegal is anything that glorifies the Third Reich. "Nazi salutes are illegal and, in my view rightly, so. If anything, these songs glorify the victory over fascism." Miles said how the songs were received depended on where they were sung.

"Sven's point is that if you want to be received warmly by your hosts you should make an effort not to upset people and that way you will make a lot of friends," he said.

"So if you sing the songs at a football ground, the Germans are likely to regard it as just part of the occasion. In the town square on a Friday night it might be different, however."

England soccer fans have history of hooliganism, most notably at the 1998 World Cup in France. However, there was relatively little violence from fans at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan and the 2004 European Championship in Portugal.

"It is far easier to get a reputation than get rid of one, but it is changing," Miles said.

"There are 16 different police forces in Germany and the England fans are not being flagged up as a big problem. They are not perceived as the main threat.

"In fact, England fans are more likely to be the victim of acts of violence at football games than the perpetrators."

First Published: May 13, 2006 13:47 IST