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Standard Liège fans defend ‘unacceptable’ banner

10:00 27/01/2015

Standard Liège fans yesterday defended the controversial banner they unfurled at the weekend match against Anderlecht, claiming the banner only had a "symbolic meaning".

The banner depicts a masked man a knife holding the severed head of Anderlecht midfielder Steven Defour, who used to play for Standard. The image appeared alongside the words "Red or Dead", which refers to the Standard colours.

The fans, known as the Ultras Inferno, hit back at their critics, including the international press and foreign minister Didier Reynders, who dubbed the offending banner “tasteless, stupid and unacceptable”. They said they had conceived of the banner six months previously and had been inspired by the horror film Friday the 13th, not recent terrorist events. They refuted all claims of inciting hatred and any real physical threat to Defour.

The interior ministry is considering sanctions against the authors of the banner, which could include a five-year stadium ban and a fine of €5,000 per fan involved.

During Sunday's match, Defour was sent off and Standard won 2-0.

Written by Deborah Forsyth