An Austrian soccer fan has been given an 18-month prison sentence for a Hitler salute during a match, falling foul of the country’s tough laws against Nazi glorification.
The unemployed 39-year-old from top-flight Rapid Vienna’s “ultra” wing of hardline fans was spotted performing the banned gesture during a match in August 2016 and sentenced in Vienna on Monday.
“I didn’t really give it much thought. But it clearly wasn’t a good idea,” the skinhead told the court, saying he had had “a few beers and spritzers” before the game.
Similar convictions are relatively common but usually the sentences are suspended. In this case, however, than man had a previous conviction for wishing Hitler happy birthday on Facebook in 2013.
Rapid Vienna is Austria’s most successful club with 32 league titles but its hardcore “ultra” supporters have a reputation for hooliganism and anti-Semitism.
Earlier this year, the the team launched an internal probe into its fans who had chanted anti-Semitic slogans at a friendly game in May.
A small group among the several hundred spectators were filmed shouting “Jewish pigs” after Rapid II lost 2-1 against arch rival Austria Vienna in Tuesday evening’s clash.
Rapid at the time described the behavior as “unforgivable,” saying it “trampled on the club’s values and principles.”
“Anyone who is found to have joined in these insults will be immediately banned from SK Rapid events,” the club said in a statement sent to AFP.