Khartoum - Vice president of Sudanese league champions Al Hilal, Saad al-Omda, told Al Arabiya English that the lifting of a Hitler banner during the Sudan derby against El Merriekh last Saturday was an individual action that does not represent the club and its supporters.
A large banner of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s face flanked by the word “holocaust” was raised by ‘Blue Lions Ultras’ supporters of Al Hilal on November 25 in the final match of the Sudanese league and provoked angry international reactions that questioned the motives behind the move.
The incident created an international outcry from European media and was described by football anti-racism campaigners as a “gruesome first” for Africa.
Campaign group Fare Network, which attempts to curb discrimination within the game, said it is investigating the incident in a tweet.
Fare is investigating a shocking incident at a league match in #Sudan over the weekend. Supporters of Al Hilal Omdurman displayed a banner with a portrait of Hitler and the words ‘holocaust’. A gruesome first for Sub-Saharan Africa. https://t.co/RlaWHFZgLw pic.twitter.com/62VbUM165f— Fare (@farenet) November 27, 2017
“Fare is investigating a shocking incident at a league match in #Sudan over the weekend.
“Supporters of Al Hilal Omdurman displayed a banner with a portrait of Hitler and the words holocaust’.
“The incident was caused by the individual actions of a group of people who do not represent the club,” said Al Hilal’s vice president Saad al-Omdah.
He added that the Sudanese Football Association will open an investigation to know those involved in lifting the banner and hold them accountable.
“The game was in Al Hilal Stadium, but securing the stadium and supervising it was the responsibility of the football association according to the system followed,” al-Omdah said.
Blue Lions still defiant
The Blue Lions Ultras supporters defended their actions on Saturday and said that the intention was “to send a sarcastic message to the rival club”.
In a statement issued Wednesday on their Facebook page the group said that the Hitler banner was intended to “send a sarcastic message to the opposing club ... and it played its role perfectly.”
The group added that they bear the full responsibility of their actions and are ready to face all the consequences of lifting the banner.