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Monday, June 29, 1998 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK

World: Europe

German hooligans warned

French police restrain a German fan during earlier trouble in Lens

German police are contacting known soccer hooligans to warn them that they will be arrested if they travel to France for the World Cup match between Germany and Mexico.

The authorities believe right-wing neo-nazi groups may try to stir up trouble at the match in Montpellier.

The action follows the clashes involving German hooligans in Lens a week ago which left a French policeman in a coma.

More than 2000 German soccer hooligans are known to the police. Many of them have been contacted individually and warned against travelling to France.

The most violent so-called "category C" hooligans could be put in jail as a preventive measure even if they have not committed any crime.

[ image: German hooligans: went on the rampage in Lens]
German hooligans: went on the rampage in Lens
Border controls are also being increased and passengers flying to Montpellier will be subject to more rigorous checks.

Internet sites used by right-wing extremists have been advising hooligans where to meet.

German politicians are considering giving the courts more powers to deal with football violence. One proposal is that convicted hooligans should be banned from travel for five years.

A recent survey showed that 90% of Germans favoured the courts accelerating the prosecution of hooligans in the same way that French courts do.

"I don't understand why German justice authorities make so little use of the option to speed up prosecution," said the Family and Youth Affairs Minister Claudia Nolte.

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