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“Disruptive elements” target of new football safety rules
Police, the Danish football association, fan clubs and the Justice Ministry announced today a list of 21 initiatives aimed at combatting hooligans.
Due to be presented to parliament this spring, the proposal would give police more power to set safety requirements at stadiums and demand more safety stewards. And, in an effort to keep out black-listed supporters, stewards will be provided with photographs and details of individuals listed on the so-called ‘hooligan register’, 72 hours before kick-off, instead of the current 24 hours.
“The goal is to tackle the disruptive elements without also infringing on people that simply want to watch a football game,” the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), said.
Police have blamed a lack of stewards at games for the frequent incidents involving fireworks and other disruptions. Last week, over 1,000 Brøndby supporters invaded their club’s pitch after beating rivals FC Copenhagen 1-0 in the quarter-final of the league cup, leading to confrontations with away fans before police clad in riot gear stepped in.
Speaking to Berlingske newspaper, Bødskov said the police’s ability to require more stewards would help prevent incidents like these, though the move could lead to burdensome extra costs for football clubs.
Experience shows that one of the most effective ways to prevent disruptions at games is to keep unruly fans away from stadiums and under the new rules anyone listed in the hooligan register will be banned from away games and also have to stay out of the new three kilometre exclusion zone surrounding the location of the match – the old exclusion zone was only 500 meters.
Anyone caught participating in violence at games will immediately be placed on the hooligan register which currently only counts 66 individuals.
Thomas Christensen, chairman of Divisionsforening, the association of football clubs, added that while the vast majority of supporters felt safe at matches, a small disruptive element keeps many from attending.
“That is why we are incredibly happy about the plan that focuses on a small core that acts unacceptable outside stadiums,” Christensen said. “We are happy that the police and stewards will be given better tools to ensure a safe football experience.”