Dortmund investigating 61 fans after trouble at Leipzig game

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) Borussia Dortmund has identified 61 fans suspected of being involved with offensive and defamatory banners displayed during the Bundesliga game against Leipzig.

The suspects face sanctions that could include stadium bans, club expulsion, the cancellation of season tickets and possible civil charges, depending on the seriousness of the violations, Dortmund said Friday on its website.

They were identified with the help of police who opened 32 preliminary investigations against supporters caught up in the violence outside the stadium on Feb. 4. Dortmund said that could rise to 40 or 50 in the coming weeks. The individuals will also face sanctions on a case-by-case basis after a club hearing.

Dortmund's game at home on Saturday against Wolfsburg is subject to a partial stadium closure affecting almost 25,000 fans because of the abusive banners against Leipzig and for disturbances at several other games this season. The club was also fined 100,000 euros ($106,000).

"We feel a collective punishment against Dortmund fans and its ultra scene is counterproductive and ineffective," said Dortmund, Germany's second biggest club with about 145,000 members.

The club had agreed on Monday to close the Westfalenstadion's south stand despite misgivings that innocent fans were also affected.

In Friday's statement, the club said it was aware of its social responsibility and that it remains engaged in favor of integration and against violence and discrimination.

"We assure all those who were injured, insulted and disappointed on February 4 that we will continue to do all we can to punish the culprits and prevent a repeat of such incidents," Dortmund said.

The club welcomed the German soccer federation's nationwide stadium ban issued against 88 Dortmund supporters found armed with fighting gear and flares in Darmstadt last Saturday.

"The BVB (Dortmund) made the case for rigorous punishment," the club said.

Updated February 17, 2017

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