Pro League and Interior Minister propose new action plan on hooliganism: “Stadium ban up to 10 years”

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After the many incidents of hooliganism in our football this season, the Pro League, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, the police services and the KBVB have worked on an action plan.

Valerie Van Avermaet

Following various bad incidents with football supporters at and around matches this season, the Pro League, in consultation with the Home Affairs Football Cell, the Minister of the Interior and her cabinet, the police services, the professional clubs and the KBVB, initiated an action plan that must offer a solution to the identified pain points in the short term. “We can no longer tolerate a minority making our football unsafe,” explains Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden. “Football should be a party for everyone.”

“The renewed approach is based on three basic principles: increasing the chance of being caught in the event of infringements, faster enforcement and follow-up of sanctions and a uniform approach to incidents in all stadiums. To succeed in this, everyone involved in the football world must take responsibility. I am therefore delighted that all partners are joining forces to ensure that football takes place in the safest and most pleasant conditions,” says Verlinden.

For example, there must be clear messages in stadiums that violations related to racism, violence and illegal use of pyrotechnic material immediately lead to a stadium ban. A monitoring and guidance committee will also be set up to help monitor the policy. Furthermore, there will be zero tolerance for racism and discrimination, illegal use of pyrotechnic objects and physical violence. The sanctions for those infringements will be tightened and can lead to a ten-year stadium ban from next season. Furthermore, recidivism can lead to a lifelong stadium ban from next season and the stadium ban will be linked to a perimeter ban for serious infringements.

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Named tickets

In order to better monitor these stadium bans, the recognition systems for access control are being reviewed. In addition to increased, targeted, physical checks, the Pro League, together with the clubs and the government, will also look at which technological innovations can be used for identification and authentication. The regulations regarding ticketing will be tightened by the government. Subscriptions and tickets will be linked to individually identified persons. The systems of Pro League ticketing provider Roboticket are being used to strengthen the database of stadium bans. Individuals with a stadium ban will no longer be able to purchase tickets. The government is also setting up a process to implement the cross-border stadium bans.

The Pro League will also make an analysis of the current camera systems used. A process is being set up whereby 360* camera systems will become the standard in Pro League stadiums. In collaboration with partners, training is also provided for efficient use of these systems. The intention is also to punish the people in question more quickly. “We want to work with the security personnel, who will be given more responsibilities, and everyone else involved on this plan,” said Pro League CEO Lorin Parys. “We are giving ourselves five years to work on this.”

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