Schalke players may skip the rest of the Bundesliga season after the club’s relegation from the German top flight was met by “frightening” fan protests that saw the team attacked by its own supporters.
A Schalke executive, Peter Knabel, said the club would listen to its players and respect their individual decisions after up to 600 supporters gathered outside the Veltins Arena in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Footage on social media showed fans chasing players after they had got off the team bus, hours after the club’s first relegation from the Bundesliga since 1988.
German police confirmed supporters had also thrown eggs at the players and verbally abused them.
With four games of the season remaining, Knabel told German publication Sportschau that the situation remains open.
“I can live with every decision as long as that decision is within legal limits,” Knabel said. “We have to see how the lads are doing.”
Schalke’s relegation was confirmed following at 1-0 defeat at Arminia Beilefeld on Tuesday night, which left the club on 13 points from 30 games this season.
Fans waited for the team bus after the defeat and had asked to speak to the players, before the situation escalated.
A Schalke player told ESPN: “The events were frightening. We knew there would be response, but none of us expected this.”