Federal Council approves tighter security at sports events

Press Release, The Federal Council, 10.06.2016

Berne. Switzerland and the Council of Europe seek to strengthen security and step up prevention with regard to violence at sports events such as football matches. The aim is to develop a joint approach to tackling violence and adopt best practices at international level. To this end, the Federal Council has approved the revision of the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches, which is in force in 42 countries including Switzerland. The Federal Council has instructed the Federal Department of Justice and Police to sign the amendment to the Convention, after which a consultation paper is to be drafted and a dispatch submitted to parliament by the end of 2017.

At the 1985 European Football Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, 39 people were killed and 600 injured following hooligan violence and the subsequent panic that broke out among fans. In the aftermath of the Heysel disaster, 42 countries, including Switzerland, signed the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches.

Security and violence prevention at sports events are just as relevant today as they were back then. The aim of updating the Convention is to promote an integrated approach to tackling violence based on safety, security and service. For example, by better anticipating violent behavior by individuals, restricting travel by high-risk fans and providing a framework for better services (so-called hospitality) to spectators inside and outside the stadium, member states aim to improve safety at sporting events under the framework of the Convention. Switzerland has already adopted measures to prohibit high-risk individuals from leaving the country to travel to sports events abroad.

Greater regulation for NFIPs

The revised Convention, which will not affect existing legislation in Switzerland, is important because it harmonises co-operation between the 42 member states so that every country works on the same basis. For example, there will be greater regulation of the member states’ National Football Information Point (NFIP), which in Switzerland is operated by fedpol. The role of an NFIP is to act as the single point of contact for the receipt and transmission of foot-ball intelligence among national and international partner services. In Switzerland, these part-ner services include the various cantonal police forces, sports associations and football clubs. Greater regulation of NFIPs will facilitate the exchange of information and promote closer co-operation among the member states.

The Federal Council has approved the amendments. After signing the new Convention in July, a consultation paper will be drafted and a dispatch submitted to parliament by the end of 2017.

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