Tough approach to hooligans, more room for supporters

In the coming years, football hooligans will be dealt with severely in order to prevent them from disturbing the peace at or in the vicinity of football matches. The municipalities, the police, the Public Prosecution Service, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), professional football associations and the Ministry of Security and Justice are joining forces to identify notorious disorderly persons and to ban them from football matches. This should make it more enjoyable for well-meaning supporters to attend football matches. This is evident from the new 'Policy Framework for Football and Safety', which Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice today sent to the Lower House.

The number of incidents during football matches has decreased in recent years. It is clear that rivalling hooligans seem to seek confrontation, with each other or the police, increasingly often at other places and times. The majority of supporters visits football matches without causing problems, but they are faced with generic measures that are intended to curtail the nuisance caused by a small group with malicious intent.

Disorderly persons

All organisations involved in professional football matches will therefore focus on notorious disorderly persons. The approach entitled Hooligans Identified II will be introduced nationally. By the end of 2011, each police force will have identified the top 10 of hooligans. Said top 10 will not only include the hooligans who have committed offences, but also the leaders of whom it is clear that they control disturbances of the peace without committing offences themselves. Moreover, the police and judicial authorities will not only focus on football-related offences when performing their analysis. Identifying other offences, such as drug dealing, form part of this offender-based approach. Leading hooligans and notorious disorderly persons are removed from anonymity and dealt with in a targeted manner on the basis of this hard and soft police information.

The new approach is intended to lead to personal measures such as exclusion orders, stadium bans and, for example, a requirement to report to the police on the basis of the Combating Football Hooliganism and Serious Public Nuisance (Measures) Act.

Room for supporters

The primary concern is that the responsible organisations must have the safety surrounding a football match under control at all times. The offender-based approach to hooligans will create more room for well-meaning supporters.

The organisations involved strive for fewer high-risk matches and more matches with a so-called A Status, in respect of which it is responsible to impose fewer generic restrictions. This means that the new Policy Framework for Football and Safety should lead to a reduction in the number of mandatory combination schemes for transport (a scheme whereby anyone wanting to attend the match has to travel to the stadium of the opposing team by designated train), the free sale of tickets can be allowed more often and the physical safety measures in the stadium can be adjusted.

Naturally, the professional football association involved, the municipality, the police and the judicial authorities will determine the risks of each match and how to guarantee safety. In this controlled situation, the organisations involved will shift the focus in the years to come to an offender-based approach on the basis of the Policy Framework. This means that well-meaning football supporters can attend a football match and enjoy it together.