By Roy Kammerer
The Associated Press
DACHAU, GERMANY (Jun 24, 2006)

With the Dachau concentration camp as their backdrop, soccer fans warned of the danger hate poses to the sport.

About 120 of them yesterday used both the World Cup and the bleak surroundings to protest anti-Semitism and hooliganism.

“Sometimes the England fans and German fans hate each other,” said Mark Perryman, of England Fans, an organizer of the event along with Jewish athletics group Maccabi Great Britain. “Hating thy neighbour can lead to this.”

Dachau, the first Nazi camp, is only 19 kilometres from Munich’s World Cup stadium, where the Germans play Sweden today.

German and English fans, and a smattering of Poles and Israelis, heard two Holocaust survivors tell harrowing tales of life in the camps. They then toured Dachau, where U.S. soldiers found stacked corpses left behind by fleeing SS officers in 1945.

For many, it was an opportunity to reach across soccer rivalries.

“This was just something I had to do – and I also came to the camp to show not all football fans are hooligans,” said David Beverley, of Scunthorpe in northern England.

The English fans were hopeful a so-far peaceful 2006 World Cup signals the waning of hooliganism at soccer’s showcase tournament.

“The sane have finally got the World Cup back,” said Ian Lewis, of Chester, in northern England. “I didn’t really expect trouble with the Germans, but I didn’t expect them or other countries to be this friendly.”

Fans from competing countries have been far more likely to get along than clash. If it continues, this World Cup would be the third straight major international soccer tournament involving European countries bereft of major violence.