- Associated Press - Saturday, March 10, 2018

HANNOVER, Germany (AP) - Bundesliga club Hannover wants fans to submit banners with slogans for club approval up to 24 hours before games.

Supporters criticized the move as an alleged attempt to stifle free speech.

The midtable German team says on its website that the “new, clearly defined rules” are taking effect from Saturday’s home game against Augsburg, and that the banners should be checked by a club representative and brought to the stadium “in a controlled manner.”

The club says it wants “to prevent claims being made against Hannover 96. Defamation, insults or discriminatory references will not be tolerated on banners, placards or signs.”

Many Hannover fans have been displaying banners critical of club president Martin Kind for his attempt to take a majority stake in the club.

Kind last month withdrew his application for an exemption to the German Soccer League’s 50-plus-1 rule against investor-takeovers.

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