German soccer mourns death of 15-year-old player who died after tournament brawl

BERLIN (AP) — The German soccer federation will hold a weekend of mourning for the 15-year-old player who died after a post-match brawl at an international youth tournament last weekend.

“This incredibly sad and shocking act at a soccer tournament for juniors leaves us speechless,” federation president Bernd Neuendorf said Thursday. “It is the ultimate challenge to all of us to take a firm stand against violence — in soccer and in society as a whole.”

The player from JFC Berlin died Wednesday from severe brain injuries sustained during a post-match brawl on Sunday. A 16-year-old player from a French team remained in detention in Frankfurt pending further inquiries.

The victim was struck in the head or neck area and collapsed, police said. They asked for witnesses who may have video of the brawl to come forward.

The federation said the German and French teams contesting the Under-17 European Championship final in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday will line up together behind a banner condemning violence. There will be a minute’s silence for the victim and both teams will wear black armbands.

There was a minute's silence Thursday before the Bundesliga relegation/promotion playoff between Stuttgart and visiting Hamburger SV.

Similar tributes will be made at the German Cup final between Eintracht Frankfurt and Leipzig on Saturday, and at all 21 local cup finals that day. This will continue for relegation/promotion playoffs taking place next week, the federation said.

“We’re sending a signal together, from the bottom to top, in these sad days,” Neuendorf said. “Together with his teammates and friends, we mourn the loss of a boy whose great passion was soccer.”

The federation and its local associations reaffirmed their commitment to engaging against violence and discrimination.

“We are deeply shocked that such a young person has left their life at a soccer game,” Bundesliga club Union Berlin said on Twitter with a black heart emoji. “Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his team.”


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