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All posts tagged football violence

Soccer safety concerns as new season ‘kicks off’

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A new soccer season has highlighted a number of safety concerns at football stadiums. In England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Association of Chief Police Officers has issued a statement setting out their joint policy on the way violence, disorder, criminal damage and abuse in and around football matches will be approached.

The statement identifies “emerging challenges” for police and prosecutors, including homophobic chanting, the assault of players by fans and the use of flares or fireworks within grounds. These are issues affecting steward training and ground rules.

Nick Hawkins, lead sports prosecutor at the CPS, said most football fans were well behaved and there had been a rise in the numbers of families at matches because of “friendlier atmospheres”.

Hawkins told the BBC that guidelines previously issued had helped reduce homophobic chanting so that prosecutions were now fewer. A deterrent which is proving effective is the banning order, which lasts a minimum of three years.

In Burma, Myanmar football supporters tore up seats and invaded the pitch in Wunna Theikdi Stadium during a league match between Naypyidaw FC and Yangon United FC attended by 20,000.

The stadium has just been built in the capital Naypyidaw for the 27th SEA Games. AFP reported that the inaugural game was called off before the half-time whistle after fighting broke out between the players and spread to the fans.

The wider stadium complex will hold a variety of sporting events during the Games, including swimming, archery and boxing. Photo courtesy of SEA Games Myanmar.

Celtic has closed a section of their stadium in Glasgow, Scotland,  to ensure meeting its Stadium General Safety Certificate after warnings to fans to remain seated during matches were ignored. Fans in section 111, home to the ‘Green Brigade’, will now be offered a refund or given the chance to relocate. A club statement read:

We have been left with no option but to take steps to ensure the safety of our supporters.

The club mentioned unsafe “lateral movement of spectators” and “body surfing” and damage to 190 seats over the last four home matches. At a recent Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville, pyrotechnics were set off during the match requiring a stadium announcement. The club is now subject to disciplinary action for a contravention of UEFA’s safety and security regulations.


Football violence remains a challenge

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There was crowd violence last weekend at a number of football stadiums across Europe. At Wembley stadium during the semi-final of the FA Cup between Millwall and Wigan, Millwall fans were booed by the rest of the crowd as they fought each other. Police entered the spectator area and removed some of the perpetrators. Wembley has in general reduced the need for police at events by developing its stewarding and private security team.

After the Newcastle versus Sunderland game four police officers were injured as trouble broke out in Newcastle town centre. The BBC reported that bottles were thrown and bins set on fire as mounted officers tried to move crowds back to allow visiting fans to be escorted to Metro and rail services. Northumbria Police said 29 arrests were made during the game itself.

In Athens at the weekend AEK Athens players were chased off the pitch by their fans. Players went to the dressing rooms as play was halted. Police and security officials moved in to clear the pitch but after a further 90-minute delay the game was called off.

Meanwhile in the UK, the police’s responsibility to police the area around a stadium has been established through the courts. West Yorkshire Police lost its appeal over policing costs matches at Elland Road stadium, the home of Leeds United Football club.

The force was seeking to reverse a previous court ruling that the club was not responsible for paying for policing streets and car parks near the ground. But the Court of Appeal in London rejected the police’s claim.

The decision means that the force will have to repay about £1m to Leeds United for three years worth of policing fees.

Anarchy in the stands can come from persistent standing – see Steve Frosdick's analysis of this phenomenon in the Summer edition of PanStadia & Arena Management.

Anarchy in the stands can come from persistent standing – see Steve Frosdick’s analysis of this phenomenon in the Summer edition of PanStadia & Arena Management.