Berlin: German football fans with a record of violence face compulsory DNA tests before the World Cup this summer to deter them from starting brawls on the fringes of the tournament. The move, which has been criticised by civil rights campaigners, comes amid the largest security operation in modern Germany.
Police and the German equivalent of the Special Branch are already vetting 250,000 World Cup employees, from bratwurst sellers to fire-fighters, while the competitionís organising committee is checking the criminal records of hundreds of thousands of supporters who have applied for match tickets.
German police hope that genetic testing will them help to trace hooligans responsible for violence, as well as acting as a deterrent. Critics, however, say that the DNA samples will have little practical use in securing convictions.
Although only about 2,000 hardcore hooligans are likely to be tested, it marks the first time that a 2005 DNA law has been applied on a large scale. Testing will begin in Berlin and Hamburg and in the state of Lower Saxony. Only Germans will be tested, but officials said on Thursday that they would encourage British authorities to take similar action if the law permitted.
Germany observes strict privacy laws and the testing has alarmed civil rights campaigners. The police are allowed to store genetic information for ten years to help to catch repeat offenders.