The Together for Safe Football plan with stricter sanctions against fan violence was presented in June and the first results are now gradually becoming clear. Since this season, clubs no longer punish their own fans, but an independent committee does. It is therefore now the National Chamber for Civil Exclusions that pronounces civil-law stadium bans and has already handled 102 files since the beginning of this season. 85 of these have been completed, making a total of 1,716 months or 143 years of stadium bans this season. 65 people were denied access to the stadiums after infringements were established.
Faster, stricter and more often
Lorin Parys, CEO of the Pro League is satisfied that the new, faster procedure is achieving results: “Thanks to the National Chamber for Civil Exclusions, someone now knows his final sentence in 20 working days, including the appeal procedure.” Those penalties have been stricter since this season: “Throwing a flare means a minimum stadium ban of 2 years and can be up to 10 years. For recidivism, the sentences can be up to 25 years. And we also work with an immediate suspension. This way we immediately give it tit for tat,” explains Parys.
“The new rules, in combination with good cooperation between the Pro League, the RBFA, our clubs and the local law enforcement, ensure that we not only intervene faster and stricter, but also much more,” Parys continues. “Halfway through this season we already have more files than was the case in a full season based on the old rules. We also notice that the new procedure is being used by many more clubs. So we will no longer let our football be hijacked, but we will work on stadiums where we will welcome even more families with children in the future. Together for safe football is and remains first and foremost a plan for the fans.”
Tickets by name
In the meantime, the Pro League continues to work with the clubs, RBFA and all parties involved on the roll-out of the other measures from the Together for Safe Football plan. For example, if a stadium ban is pronounced, it must also be effective. To ensure that fans with a stadium ban can no longer enter the stadium, tickets and subscriptions will now only be sold by name.
If you bought a ticket and are unable to attend a match, you can exchange your ticket or subscription with another registered fan via the Free your Seat system. The various stadium ban databases are now automatically linked in real time to Roboticket, the joint ticketing system of the Pro League clubs. Individuals with a stadium ban will no longer be able to purchase or exchange tickets.
And as announced in the plan in June, the analysis of the various camera and surveillance systems in the clubs will also start. After that, the Pro League will know which clubs still need to invest in high-quality cameras in order to identify those involved more quickly. Conversations with fans are also being intensified to ensure the exchange of information and insights.
Tightened Football Law
In addition, the Pro League, the Interior and the KBVB continue to invest in prevention and the Football Act will soon be amended. The Council of Ministers has already approved the stricter Football Act. If the Council of State and Parliament also do the same, clubs will in future be explicitly held accountable if there are shortcomings in their camera systems, if they do not comply with the regulations regarding ticket sales or if they do not take sufficient precautions to remove pyrotechnic material or, for example, balaclavas from their stadiums.
In addition, the renewed Football Act increases the penalties for violations such as physical violence, racism or xenophobia and the use of pyrotechnic material. The stadium ban per infringement can run up to a maximum of ten years, instead of five years as was currently the case. Offenses committed against stewards, security officers, security officers, members of the emergency services or members of the police services are also punished more severely in the new law. Thanks to the innovation, in addition to police officers, stewards and private security agents will also be able to check the identity of supporters and compare it with the name on the ticket or season ticket. This increases the chance of catching individuals with a stadium ban who nevertheless try to enter the stadium.