Belgium to strengthen punishments for football violence

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Ticketing problems cause delays for World Cup fans
Photo: Wesley Tingey = Unsplash

The Belgian Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, has held a meeting with CEO’s of football teams in the country’s top division following a weekend marred by football violence. 

The Belgian newspaper De Standaard has reported that Verlinden proposed to the representatives that the laws on football should be tightened and that penalties against those breaking rules should be increased. 

The Minister stated in a press release that “Like many other football supporters, I was shocked last weekend when I saw the images from various football stadiums.” She added that there is no “miracle solution” and the only potential answer is based on a “joint approach” by all actors. 

There are three key elements to the planned changes. The first is to ensure that clubs are doing all they can to prevent violence, for example by introducing more severe penalties for clubs that are found to not have sufficient camera systems, fail to comply with ticketing regulations or don’t take sufficient precautions to prevent pyrotechnic materials from entering their stadiums. 

A second element is more sever sanctions for offences committed by fans, such as physical violence, racism or xenophobia and the use of pyrotechnic material. Stadium bans for these offences could last up to 10 years, rather than the five currently in place. 

Finally, there will be the introduction of stricter access controls. One aspect of this will be to permit stewards or agents of private security firms to check the identity of supporters and compare it to the name on the ticket or season ticket. This is most likely to be used in high-risk matches.


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