A bill strengthening measures to combat football hooliganism following several incidents has been drafted by Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, the minister announced in a statement on Monday.
The bill proposes measures giving football clubs greater responsibility for keeping fans safe inside stadiums, tougher penalties for those who break the rules and stricter checks on people’s identities attending matches.
In an official press press release, Verlinden said she presented the bill at a meeting with Belgian professional football clubs on Monday morning.
Verlinden strongly believes that tougher measures are needed. Last weekend, a match between Sporting Charleroi and KV Mechelen had to be stopped due to bad behavior from the fans. This is not the first time such a situation has happened and often fireworks and other pyrotechnic materials are also used by fans.
“A few fans endanger the safety of many others and once again damage the image of football,” Verlinden said. “No one has a miracle solution, the only answer is a joint approach by all players.”
His proposal mentions that clubs will face stricter controls and penalties if deficiencies are found in their camera systems, if they do not comply with ticketing regulations or if they take insufficient precautions to prevent pyrotechnic materials from entering the stages. Clubs will also be given greater powers to enforce the law.
Fans caught red-handed in stadiums, using pyrotechnics, or being racist or xenophobic, for example, will also be punished more severely. Thus, the total stadium ban for a first offense will be increased from five to ten years.
In addition, stricter identity checks in the stadiums will be put in place, and subscriptions and match tickets can only be issued by name. In addition, stewards will have the right to ask supporters to show their identity cards, a right currently reserved for police officers and staff working for a security company.
The Minister said that she is “counting on all partners to respect the commitments” made in the action plan. “Everyone has to take responsibility. I also hope that the strengthened football law can be quickly approved by the government and parliament.
(Anne-Sophie Gayet | EURACTIV.com)