Football hooliganism

Doc. 8553

30 September 1999 


Committee on Culture and Education

Rapporteur: Mr. Gerrit Valk, Netherlands, Socialist Group


For debate in the Standing Committee see Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure

Pour débat à la Commision permanente – Voir article 47 du Règlement





The Assembly considers that football hooliganism is a threat to the sport and that more efforts will have to be made to reduce it. Safety measures should be complemented by social preventive measures and an increased effort in the field of education.

The European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sport Events and in particular Football Matches should be fully implemented. A long-term integrated approach in which all parties concerned make binding arrangements is needed. Players, clubs and national and international football authorities have responsibilities and should assume them.



I. Draft recommendation


  1. The Assembly considers that football hooliganism is a threat to the sport and that more efforts will have to be made to reduce hooliganism and prevent the occurrence of incidents such as those at the 1998 World Cup in France.
  2. It believes that the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches of 1985 is the appropriate framework for co-operation in this field. According to Article 1 of the Convention, the Parties are obliged to take the necessary steps to prevents and control violence and misbehaviour by spectators at football matches and other sports event in which violence or misbehaviour by spectators is to be feared.
  3. Since the adoption of the Convention hooliganism has changed gradually. Changes include:



  1. The Assembly considers that, to succeed, safety measures should be complemented by social preventive measures and an increased effort in the field of education.
  2. A long-term integrated approach, in which all parties concerned make binding arrangements, is crucial for the reduction of hooliganism. Both clubs and national and international football authorities have to assume their responsibilities.
  3. Players and clubs have a responsibility to prevent any behaviour on the playing field that might provoke violence among fans.
  4. For an atmosphere conducive to tolerance and fair play, a balance has to be sought between security and safety on the one hand and friendliness and hospitality on the other.
  5. Co-operation and co-ordination during international events are still far from optimal in that many countries are not able to provide the necessary information and countries with a lot of experience in dealing with hooligans often feel that their experience is not used to the full.
  6. Sensationalist or exaggerated press reports, sometimes enhancing nationalist tendencies, contribute to a climate conducive to hooliganism, especially in the periods leading up to championships.
  7. Communication is a key factor in the prevention or escalation of incidents and this does not apply only to communication within and between those involved in security. Communication with fans by police officers, stewards and fan coaches contributes to the prevention of incidents, especially if people familiar to them address fans in their own language
  8. An important contribution to the prevention of hooliganism is by excluding known hooligans from attending matches. Alcoholic drinks should be banned from stadia.
  9. The possibilities to manage a temporary event such as a championship safely are constrained by the long term policies (or lack of them) in the participating countries.
  10. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers continue and reinforce its work against hooliganism in sport on the basis of the European Convention, in association with governments and the relevant sports bodies, clubs, associations and stadia owners, and in particular by:


With regard to hooliganism in general:


    With regard to the organisation of Euro 2000 and future international sports events:




II. Explanatory Memorandum by Mr Valk

A. Introduction

  1. In June 1998 148 Members of the Parliamentary Assembly strongly condemned (in Written Declaration No. 276, Doc. 8148) the acts of violence perpetrated by hooligans in several French cities hosting the 1998 Football World Cup. These members stated, inter alia, that:



They called on those responsible to take such measures as were necessary to prevent the recurrence of the deplorable scenes of violence.

  1. In the year 2000, the final rounds of the European Football Cup are to be held in Belgium and the Netherlands.
  2. Those involved, in particular those instances directly engaged in football, have repeatedly stated their willingness, and have actually taken initiatives, to decrease hooliganism. It must nevertheless be stated that the phenomenon has far from vanished.
  3. In January 1999, the Assembly Bureau referred a motion for a recommendationon football hooliganism presented by Mr Valk and others (Doc. 8279) to the Committee on Culture and Education.
  4. On 10 May 1999, the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport organised a hearing on the subject in Paris (see Appendix). The rapporteur wishes to thank the consultant expert Dr Otto Adang for his subsequent assistance in the preparation of the report.


B. Football Hooliganism

  1. Hooliganism already existed in the last century. Modern hooliganism exists since the sixties in several countries. Boys and young men, aged between 15 and 25, collectively engage in fights, demolitions and provocations. Their main targets are other groups, who only differ from them in their being composed of fans of another football team.
  2. In commentaries following incidents it is commonly stated that these "fans" do not deserve to be called supporters of their team. Other reports indicate that the hooligans consider themselves to be the true fans: they support the team for better and for worse, they create the highly praised "atmosphere" inside stadia. However that may be, their allegiance to a football team is the main factor binding hooligans together. Their main interest does not seem so much to see brilliant football, but to see their team win. In addition, hooligans have their own match with rival fans. Sometimes that match is the most important one. Football matches are used as an opportunity.
  3. The behaviour of the hooligans seems to be aimed at gaining prestige. The ability to fight, group solidarity and loyalty, plus the aggressive defence of culturally defined areas, are all elements of a satisfying masculine identity. Fighting at football is largely about young males testing out their own reputations for manliness against those of other similarly motivated young men.
  4. The rivalry between fan-groups and their confrontations seem in many ways comparable with those between youth gangs, well known in e.g. the USA. Tribal fighting is another parallel.
  5. Specific soccer factors.

  6. There is only a weak correlation between specific factors relating to football matches and hooliganism. The result of the match is not important for the amount of violence that occurs after the finish of the match. In general, present day hooliganism does not appear to be caused by events on the playing field, such as contested referee decisions or violence altercations between players. Of course, on occasion events of this type may lead to violent altercations on the terraces, but the event on the playing field that most influences hooliganism is the scoring of a goal point.
  7. Outside the stadia the frequency of violence is, in general, greater after the match than before it. This appears to have little connection to the build up of frustrations over the course of the match. Before the matches it appears that supporters are more motivated to avoid being arrested (so as not to miss the match). In addition, co-ordinated action on the part of the fans before the match requires more organisation and mutual agreement.
  8. Hooligans

  9. Despite efforts to find a relationship between the hooligan and his social background, there is from the multitude of data on this subject only one solid conclusion: there is no systematic relationship between vandalism and social background. It appears on the contrary that hooligans descend from all imaginable environments and are not pre-eminently unemployed and such-like. Hooliganism or comparable behaviour is also not restricted to a certain city, region, or country. Hooligans often resemble other young men who have problems at school and in the family situation, particularly in connection to authority figure relationships (conflict with teachers etc.) while social control for the greater part is absent. Undoubtedly young men with a greater inclination to violence are attracted to the possibilities offered by being part of a "side" and attending a risk match.
  10. Each time only a comparatively small section of the risk group was guilty of violent behaviour. These observations appear to be in agreement with the customary image of a relatively small 'hard-core' group surrounded by a much greater group of "hangers on". However, the behaviour of the surrounding group is very important: their passive or active support and absence of any form of condemnation made the start and/or escalation of violence easier. Hard core initiators may serve as initiators and organisers, but there is no formal organisation with "leaders". The behaviour of people in football crowds seems to be influenced by the same factors that influence the "normal" everyday behaviour of humans.

    Context, cause and function

  12. An important factor causing hooliganism lies with the desire to earn prestige, both within one's own group and relative to the rival group. The frequency of violence appears to be strongly related to the relationship between the two supporter groups: at meetings between 2 risk-clubs two times as much violence occurs compared to meetings between a risk club and a non-risk club. Yet meetings between 2 non-risk clubs were also often strikingly characterised by violence, that is if away supporters were present. It seems that the chance of violence was highest if there was any uncertainty about the mutual power difference.
  13. The rivalry between different groups has historically grown and may originate from rivalries not connected to football at all, such as enmity between regions or cities. Via confrontations around soccer matches new rivalries may start or new life is breathed into old ones.
  14. Rivalry as a cause of supporter violence is not only made plausible by the greater amount of violence at meetings between two risk clubs. Other evidence is given by the fact that violence (particularly violence between supporters, which is the most common form of violence) starts often without a preceding clear demonstrable cause and the fact that the different supporter groups clearly take pains to come into close contact with one another, frequently challenging each other. In addition, the demonstration of violence is experienced by supporters as "fun" and "exciting".
  15. The fact that especially goal points which brought one of the teams into the lead were followed by violence, and that this violence may come just as easily from the fans of the team that scored as from the other fans, is in further support of the rivalry idea.
  16. Only a small proportion of the large number of provocations is followed by violence. The provocations (consisting of abuse and threats) seem to serve more as a demonstration of internal harmony.
  17. The enforcement of police measures is also sometimes followed by violence, but almost exclusively by violence between the supporters involved and the police (and for a small part to violence directed at objects).



  1. The way in which hooliganism has manifested itself has changed gradually in the course of time. The most conspicuous development was the dissociation of hooliganism from football matches. The first eruptions of hooliganism occurred in close connection with incidents on the playing field. Violent confrontations between rival fan-groups on the terraces formed the second stage. Partly as a result of safety measures, fans began to occupy more or less fixed spots on the terraces, which they started to see as their "territories". In the next stage, to evade safety measures, they started occupying places outside their "territories". They also started visiting matches in which their team did not take part, just to have a chance to confront rival fan-groups. Eventually, confrontations occurred without any connection to a football match whatsoever.
  2. These developments were to a large extent set in motion by safety measures taken to separate and monitor rival fan-groups (e.g. by the use of CCTV). There are increasing indications that (the threat of) new, possibly effective measures such as video cameras and ID passes, can cause undesirable developments. New police action merely leads to new tactics by hooligans.
  3. More organised and co-ordinated behaviour of fans forms another important development of hooliganism. In the beginning hardly any internal co-ordination occurred: fans that were interested in fights etc. went to matches and could know they would meet equally minded persons with whom to provoke rival fans attending the match. Confrontations followed predictable patterns and simple rules. Gradually arrangements were made between hooligans following a team. Increasing safety measures called for preparatory initiatives: reconnaissance trips were carried out, tickets were bought beforehand if necessary, tactics were discussed, joint travel arrangements were planned etc.
  4. In the early years alcohol probably played a large part in the eruption of incidents. Currently, alcohol does not seem to be an important factor. This is partly due to enforcement of alcohol bans during and around matches. However, the fact that it is not very wise to be under the influence of alcohol when deliberately confronting rival groups seems to be taken into consideration by the fans as well. The use of drugs is on the increase, especially drugs that reduce feelings of fear and seem to give more energy.
  5. The largest part of all hooligans still is between 15 and 25 years of age. As hooligans grow older and become more involved with careers and families, they tend to withdraw from the hooligan-scene. The proportion of "older" hooligans seems to be on the increase, however. There are even signals that some older hooligans have returned after a few years absence.


C. Tackling hooliganism

Integrated approach

  1. Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that the police cannot and should not deal with hooliganism on its own and that an integrated approach is called for, involving all parties.
  2. In practice, measures tend to focus on the way in which hooliganism manifests itself, in part because the rivalry between supporters is a factor that is hard to influence. Changes in the infrastructure of stadia (fences, cameras, all-seater stadia) make surveillance and separation of fans easier, as do ticketing arrangements. However, a one-sided focus on security measures may be detrimental to an atmosphere of friendliness.
  3. Well-trained stewards may contribute significantly to hospitality and an early signalling of potential trouble inside stadia. The behaviour of players, coaches and club-officials also influences fan behaviour. Fan societies also play a role.
  4. Security forces deal with public order and the arrest of offenders. Public prosecutors and judges deal with apprehended offenders. Train and bus companies are involved in the transport of fans. Local authorities have their own priorities.
  5. To prevent excesses in hooliganism, all these parties have to develop policies and co-operate with one another. If the different policies are not made explicit, if they are not integrated with one another and if arrangements are not binding, they will not work as expected.


Presence of away supporters and separation of fans

  1. As indicated, the rivalry between home and away fans is crucial to the existence of hooliganism. There is a clear connection between the number of away-supporters that visit a soccer match and the chance that violence occurs. The chance of violence is lower when there are less away-supporters present. Measures that have had a direct or indirect influence on the number of away-supporters attending a match include matches being played with no public present, the non-admittance or admittance only under fixed conditions for away-supporters, the direct transmission of the match on TV or only offering advance sale tickets (hence making it harder for supporters to obtain a ticket). Evening matches or non-weekend matches generally attract fewer away-supporters.
  2. From this it does not follow automatically that the exclusion of away-supporters is the most effective means to reduce hooliganism. Enforcement of such a measure is at odds with a valued tradition and presents a number of potential problems related to practical enforcement. In addition, fans will probably oppose such a measure, which could lead to violence as well. Also, it is likely that hooliganism would be displaced to other times and places.
  3. Fan violence may occur without the presence of a rival group as well. Violence by home-supporters may be directed at:


  1. If away supporters are present the policy is usually aimed at keeping the two supporter groups separated from each other. In practice however, this policy is not carried out consistently. The separation of away- and home-supporters has a disadvantageous side effect: the phenomenon "side" and all that is associated with it becomes. So at the same time, separation helps to keep hooliganism alive as a problem.
  2. Whether or not supporters were separated from each other is also dependent on the effort home-supporters take to seek confrontation with away-supporters. There are many measures that may hinder attempts of fans to seek confrontations without antagonising them, e.g.:


  1. In addition to a separation between home fans and away fans, it is important to separate potentially violent fans from other fans. As the initiatives for violent incidents are usually taken by just a few individuals, it is important to get to know the fans individually. This creates more possibilities to influence them or to exclude unwanted fans from attending matches. In the last few years, stadia bans have been used increasingly. In combination with an obligation to report to a certain place (e.g. a police station) bans may contribute to a prevention of incidents. In this respect, it is regrettable that violent fans, who are banned from attending matches of their team in their own country, may still visit matches of their team (or of the national team) in other countries.
  2. Once fans are known, it becomes possible to influence them on other occasions than match-days. Both fan societies and fan coaches are important in this respect. In several countries "fan projects" have been initiated in the past (e.g. Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany). Fan coaches make contact with fans, communicate with them, and try to give positive influences by organising events, giving support and advice, enhancing responsibility, etc. In addition, fan coaches provide a link between fans and clubs, media, schools, local authorities, etc. Fan coaches and fan societies provide one of the few ways which do not restrict themselves to manifestations of hooliganism on match days.


D. International matches and tournaments

  1. In relationship with the hooligan problem, it is important to distinguish between club matches in national and international competitions and matches of national teams. Fans of national teams often behave differently from fans supporting a club. Because of this, lack of separation of fans supporting national teams is not automatically followed by incidents. Matches lasting a day pose problems that are different from those encountered during championships.
  2. In most countries, matches of the national team are only rarely accompanied by confrontations between hooligans. In most cases, rival relationships between away- and home-supporters are less pronounced and there seems to be some sort of "truce" between fans of one nationality. If there is any fighting, it is directed at foreign fans, the common enemy. At matches abroad, some fans feel they are defending the national reputation for manliness and bravery.
  3. The understanding originating from international venues sometimes led to co-operation between some fan groups against common rivals on other occasions. Also, contacts were established with foreign fans who were willing to assist in the struggle against common rivals.
  4. The policing of international matches is complicated by many factors, such as the fact that host police are unfamiliar with visiting fans and vice versa. Language differences and the deployment of less experienced officers may further complicate matters. Delays in handling of information are often increased. Potential troublemakers may feel less inhibited, less responsible and more anonymous. Reselling of tickets makes separation of fans difficult.
  5. In the last fifteen years, violent incidents have taken place at each of the several championships which have taken place in Europe. Surprisingly enough, evaluation reports of these events are not readily available. The existing ones, often lack objectivity and structure. Incidents are characteristically downplayed. Nevertheless, it is possible to learn important lessons from previous events. For that, it is necessary not just to analyse incidents, but also to take a look at incidents that did not happen.
  6. At the European Championships in Germany of 1988 especially German fans acted aggressively, against English fans, against the police and against squatters. German fans were characterised by increased co-operation and self-confidence. After Euro 1988 police sources pointed to the importance of adequate information on fan behaviour, of communicating with fans and of the role police spotters may play.
  7. The World Championship held in Italy in 1990 was characterised on the one hand by relative little attention for international co-operation and on the other hand, by heavy policing. Alcohol bans and judicial measures completed the picture. There was hardly any communication between police and fans, except through foreign police spotters. The quality of the stadia was excellent and contributed to a good atmosphere inside. Different venues were far apart and most incidents occurred away from the stadia when Italian fans provoked foreign (especially English) fans.The role of the media as an escalating factor was emphasised.
  8. At the European Championship in 1992 in Sweden, a country with a limited hooligan problem, Swedish, English and German hooligans were involved in several incidents. Large numbers of police contained the incidents. Media involvement was important in two ways: in "setting the scene" by sensationalist coverage and because journalists became the target of attacks by English hooligans. The use of police spotters proved again useful, although not all foreign police forces considered international co-operation to be optimal. Spotters provided local police with tactical information on the behaviour of fans and hooligans, acted as intermediary to "their" fans and provided local police with information about individuals. It was often unclear what kind of information was expected and what was done with information provided. The sale of tickets proved to be an important source of information.
  9. In 1994, the World Cup was held in the USA. The increasing commercial influences were felt. The positive effects of active communication of police with fans, and of stewards and fan-coaches with fans contributed to a World Cup without major incidents.
  10. The European Championships of 1996 took place in England. For the first time 16 countries participated. English fans rioted all over the country after the loss of the English team against Germany. No other major incidents occurred, in spite of the fact that separation of fans was not complete. The explosion of an IRA-bomb in Manchester revealed the vulnerability of a large event to acts of terrorism. The English police concluded that Euro 96 was characterised by an unprecedented level of multi-agency planning and co-operation, both on a national and international level. A centralised co-ordination centre with police liaison officers from other countries had been established. The quality and accuracy of information of the intelligence and supporter travel information varied, a number of competing countries did not possess the necessary infrastructure. Again police spotters proved to be very useful in the intelligence-led operation. An effective national press and media strategy was considered of vital importance.
  11. The existence of the Football Licensing Authority contributed to safe stadia. As a result of the tragedy at Hillsborough, there were no fences in the stadia but this did not present problems. Some countries had their own stewards and fan coaches present, which contributed to the prevention of incidents.
  12. At Euro 1996, international co-operation had become commonplace. This did not only include co-operation with participating countries, but also with transit countries.
  13. The 1998 World Cup was held in France and lasted over a month. Again, by far the large majority of matches in the 10 venue sites went without incidents. However, a few serious incidents occurred involving German and English fans and local youths. For English fans, but not for fans from other countries, there was a relation between excessive drinking and involvement in incidents.
  14. The Security report published after the event points to the fact that maintaining the peace during an event of this type cannot do with preparation well beyond territorial limits and preparation within the joint Schengen space. Co-operation of the international police forces should be continued and developed for improved knowledge of risks and adaptation of methods, and to acquire familiarity with crowds from different cultural backgrounds. The report considers it essential to evaluate potential disturbances of public order. Co-operation of foreign police forces is indispensable in this area.
  15. As was the case with previous championships, international information exchange was of varying quantity and quality. It proved difficult to co-ordinate the operational action of delegations with varying cultures, languages, police organisations, familiarity with the hooligan phenomenon, political systems and therefore with different approaches to public order. Clear differences in the way liaison officers work in different countries were revealed. Spotters dissuaded some supporters from exceeding limits and allowed the identification of more violent supporters who disturbed public order. British Transport Police travelled with fans on trains to France.
  16. The Security report recommends the establishment of a think tank in each country to define and put into effect the best-adapted prevention measures. The procedure used to sell tickets made it almost impossible to separate supporters of opposing teams. The ticket selling system was fully inadequate and led to security risks.
  17. Championships tend to get bigger and bigger: more participating countries, more matches, and longer duration. Commercial influences are increasingly important. Two parties deserve special attention during international championships: home fans in each of the participating countries and the local population in the countries in which the championships take place. In each of the championships held in Europe in the last fifteen years, local youths (not necessarily hooligans) provoked incidents in the organising country. Also, in some of the participating countries, incidents occurred involving youths staying at home.
  18. Intelligence clearly is a major factor in dealing with international events. There is a clear trend towards increased co-operation and co-ordination, both before and during matches and championships, between countries and police forces involved. However, it is still far from optimal: many countries are not able to provide the necessary information and countries with a lot of experience in dealing with hooligans often feel that their experience is not used to the full.
  19. Time and again, communication or the lack of it, seems to be a key factor in the prevention or escalation of incidents. This does not apply only to communication within and between those involved in security. Especially in the period leading up to championships, sensationalist or exaggerated press reports, sometimes enhancing nationalist tendencies, contribute to a climate conducive to hooliganism. Communication with fans by police officers, stewards and fan coaches contributes to prevention of incidents, especially if people familiar to them address fans in their own language.
  20. When intelligence, co-operation, co-ordination and communication are not exploited to the full, less adequate repressive measures tend to take precedence. The possibilities to manage a temporary event such as a championship safely are constrained by the long term policies (or lack of them) the participating countries apply with regard to the problem of football hooliganism. In addition, the security management of international championships and matches could benefit from more systematic and structural, objective evaluations.


E. European perspective

The European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches

  1. The European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches (hereafter referred to as the European Convention) was adopted by the member States of the Council of Europe in 1985 and is considered as the appropriate framework for co-operation in the field. It is signed by 34 States and is effective in 29 States (as of March, 1999). The European Convention was adopted in the wake of the tragedy in Brussels, May 1985, when 38 people died in the Heysel stadia following spectator violence.
  2. According to Article 1 of the European Convention, the Parties, with a view to preventing and controlling violence and misbehaviour by spectators at football matches and other sports event in which violence or misbehaviour by spectators is to be feared, undertake to take the necessary steps to give effect to a number of provisions. For the purposes of the Convention, a Standing Committee is established (article 8), which meets once or twice a year. Over the years, the Standing Committee has taken several initiatives and made a number of recommendations to refine or implement the provisions of the European Convention.
  3. Article 2 of the European Convention states that Parties shall co-ordinate their policies and actions, where appropriate through setting up co-ordinating bodies.
  4. Article 3 lists a number of measures, including employment of adequate public order resources (3.1.a), facilitation of close co-operation and exchange of appropriate information between police forces (3.1.b), application and adoption of legislation to punish offenders (3.1.c) and encouragement of responsible supporters' clubs and stewards from within their membership to help manage and inform spectators and to accompany travelling supporters.
  5. Concerning stewarding, in 1999, a Standing Committee Working Party made a Draft Recommendation (No. 1/99) laying down principles on which to base a system of stewarding at sporting events with large attendances. It stipulates that stewards do not originate form supporters clubs', but have to be provided by whoever is responsible for the safety of spectators at the match. The Recommendation explicitly states functions of stewards, as well as minimum standards of recruitment, selection, training and assessment. Qualified stewards from the visiting club or country should be permitted to accompany the visiting supporters.
  6. Other measures mentioned in Article 3 of the European Convention include the co-ordination of travel arrangements so as to inhibit potential trouble makers from leaving to attend matches (3.3) and practical measures at and within stadia to prevent or control violence and misbehaviour, including: a suitable design (3.4.a), separation of rival supporters (b), controlled sale of tickets (c), exclusion of known or potential troublemakers (d), an effective public address system (e), the restriction or ban of alcohol at stadia (f), the provision of controls to prevent spectators from bringing dangerous objects into stadia (g), and the availability of liaison officers to co-operate with authorities on crowd control (h).
  7. Recommendation 2/87 on crowd searches explicitly stresses the importance of crowd searches to effect the controls mentioned in article 3.4.g. Recommendation 1/87 on alcohol sales and consumption recommends the extension of the provisions of article 3.4.f to include travel arrangements and, where possible, the neighbourhood of stadia before, during and after matches. Concerned by occasions when the free availability of tickets has contributed to outbreaks of spectator violence, Recommendation 1/89 provides guidelines for ticket sales and has a detailed appendix with suggestions to control the sale of tickets with a view to reducing the possibility of spectator violence. Following incidents in the United Kingdom (viz. Bradford and Sheffield), Recommendation 1/91 on the promotion of safety at stadia lays down principles and rules. In 27 points attention is given to preventive actions and the preparation of efficient responses related to:


  1. In a 1997 statement on fences and barriers the Standing Committee notes that perimeter fences and obstacles to protect the playing area restrict views and provide a less welcoming environment. However, the removal of perimeter fences had to depend on:


  1. In the light of the 1998 World Cup championship the Standing Committee revised its position and its Recommendation 2/99 it recommended to proceed to the removal of fences in sports grounds.
  2. In 1998 a discussion was started regarding bans to prevent known hooligans from entering stadia and the validity of such a ban abroad (article 3.4.d). This discussion was rendered more difficult by the differences in bans used in different countries. In some countries, bans are decided by a court. In other countries, bans are imposed by clubs or the national football authority.
  3. Article 4 of the European Convention supplements Article 3.1.b and stresses the necessity of international co-operation, both between governments and sports authorities, especially around matches where violence or misbehaviour by spectators is to be feared. Consultations will have to take place to arrangements, measures and precautions to be taken before, during and after the match concerned.
  4. Recommendation 3/87 on police co-operation recommends that Parties nominate correspondents: central contact point within the police for potential problems of football hooliganism. This initiative follows the nomination of permanent correspondents nominated within the European Union.
  5. Recommendation 1/88 on the use of advisory police spotters recommends that police authorities discuss the possibilities of arranging for advisory plain-clothes policemen from visiting countries to assist local police forces on potential problems for the visiting supporters.
  6. In Recommendation 2/91 clarifies the role of visiting police in the host country. It is recognised that responsibility for police action and the maintenance of public order remains with the host country at all times. Nevertheless, the availability of relevant information and intelligence as advice is crucial. Three types of information are necessary:


  1. Liaison officers may be useful in observing at first hand the behaviour of supporters from their own country. Another possible role is in dealing publicly with supporters, e.g. to appeal for sensible behaviour.
  2. Recommendation 2/88 on preparation for major events recommends that relevant police authorities consider organising before major international competitions training seminars for senior police officers on the organisation of crowd control measures. In Recommendation 2/91 it is recommended that before a major international football championship, the host country should consider organising a conference for all participating police forces to familiarise all participants with each other's plans and intentions, to establish contact with opposite numbers and to identify difficulties.
  3. Recommendation 2/91 on international police co-operation for international football matches and tournaments is based on experiences from Euro 88 and the World Cup held in Italy in 1990) and contains detailed guidelines to implement Article 4 of the European Convention. The guidelines suggest a framework based on proven good practice.
  4. Recommendation 1/97 on the use of standard forms for the exchange of police intelligence concerning high risk sport events follows an initiative by the European Union (Recommendation of 22 April 1996 on guidelines for preventing and restraining disorder connected with football matches) in order to prevent adoption of two different texts.

Standard forms are provided for the exchange of police intelligence concerning travelling supporters (mode and time of travel, travel route, number and type of supporters, accommodation).


  1. Article 5 of the European Convention sees to the identification and treatment of offenders. Spectators committing acts of violence or other criminal acts have to be prosecuted. if appropriate, Parties will consider extraditing suspects, transferring proceedings to the country of residence, or having convicted persons serve their sentences in their own country.
  2. Recommendation 1/90 on identification and treatment of offenders draws attention to the provisions of Article 5 of the European Convention and urges Parties to ratify relevant European Conventions. It points to the use of video-recorders and closed circuit television in identifying suspect. It is also recommended that in the case of successful prosecution of offenders, measures are taken which have the effect of preventing individual offenders from attending sports events or particular sports events for a given time, or forbidding access to grounds where such events take place.
  1. Article 6 of the European Convention lists additional measures to be taken, viz.:


  1. In addition to the specific Recommendations mentioned earlier, two recommendations deal with general measures.
  2. Recommendation 2/89 is a comprehensive report on measures to counter hooliganism. It includes lessons learnt from Euro 88 in Germany. Co-operation and co-operation are considered vital for success.
  3. Recommendation 1/93 on measures to be taken by the organisers of football matches and public authorities provides a standard checklist of measures to be taken. The checklist is meant to serve as the basis for an agreement between the organisers of a football match and the public authorities of the country where the football match is to be organised about obligations and responsibilities of the organisers of football matches on a European level (particularly within the framework of UEFA and FIFA competitions).
  4. All measures mentioned above deal directly with the organisation of sport events. In addition to these measures, the European Convention calls for the parties to take appropriate social and educational measures to prevent violence in and associated with sport (Article 3.5), in particular by:


  1. Every year, Parties submit national reports on incidents, new legislative and administrative measures, new regulatory measures adopted by sports organisations and new co-ordination measures, new preventive and social measures, international co-operation.
  2. Over the years, the Standing Committee has organised several meetings and seminars (e.g. 1997 Sprint seminar in Rome on "Sport and Law", 1998 Sprint seminar in Berlin on "Combating Hooliganism"). The participants to the Berlin seminar agreed that it is important that fans be consulted and involved in decisions that concern them. Relations with supporters should be based on a long-term strategy and on lasting personal contacts. The participants also stressed the importance of educational, social and cultural measures and strategies in preventing violence.
  3. Initiatives of the European Union

  4. Over the years, the European parliament has adopted several resolutions related to hooliganism, calling for a balance between repression and fundamental societal values. The European parliament on several occasions recommended co-operation for the struggle against violence and necessary measures for the struggle against vandalism, xenophobia and violence in sport.
  5. Several initiatives for joint policy and approach in the area of combating football hooliganism within the Union have been taken by the working group on police co-operation. The Council of Ministers has adopted a number of recommendations:


  1. The most recent initiative is a "Handbook for international police co-operation and measures to prevent and control violence and disorder around football matches" (Enfopol 37, 8358/99). The following subjects are covered in the handbook:



  1. Over the years a number of initiatives have been taken (based in large part on the European Convention) that greatly contributed to improved international co-ordination, co-operation and exchange of information. In spite of that, large differences exist between different countries as to the actual implementation of arrangements. E.g. only three countries have a national "football intelligence" centre on a permanent basis. The Handbook developed by the European Union might prove useful to countries of the Council of Europe as well.
  2. The initiatives taken were almost exclusively concerned with the safe management of matches and tournaments. Repressive and secondarily preventive measures were aimed at the way in which the hooligan problem manifested itself and were heavily influenced by striking incidents, such as the Heysel-tragedy. The European Convention was written in response to the hooliganism of the eighties. Without changes, it is doubtful whether it will be able to deal with the developments in hooliganism noted in this report.
  3. Although it is recognised that the roots of hooliganism lie outside the field of sport, in a European context few initiatives were taken to influence the behaviour of fans in between matches. Educational, social and cultural measures and strategies to prevent violence deserve more attention.


F. Euro 2000

  1. For the first time in history, two countries will jointly organise a football championship. For several reasons, Euro 2000 is not a smaller version of a World Championship (e.g. the World Cup held in France, 1998). The territories of the organising countries are relatively small. As a consequence, at any time visitors can easily travel between cities where matches are played or to other towns. All countries taking part in Euro 2000 are relatively close to the host countries. Borders are open and excellent connections by air, rail, water and road exist. Both Belgium and the Netherlands are densely populated and many special events will be held during Euro 2000. In addition, many tourists visit these countries in June. On top of that: both Belgium and the Netherlands have a long tradition of football hooliganism.
  2. The Netherlands and Belgium opt for a pro-active, preventive approach to ensure the festive, safe nature of the event. To prepare for Euro 2000, a government framework of basic policy assumptions and tolerance limits has been drawn up. It states that visitors will be treated as guests and will be expected to act as guests. Misconduct will be dealt with immediately. Offenders will be prosecuted under criminal law. The police will have to contribute to the festive nature of the event. Police deployment will be aimed at keeping the peace, employing a mixture of preventive, pro-active and restraining methods. For this purpose, a profile of police conduct has been formulated. Before and during Euro 2000 maximum co-operation at operational levels is sought. A treaty is made to achieve maximum co-operation with respect to supportive, general and technical services (exchange of intelligence, supervision of fans, use of materials, traffic control, etc.). Arrangements are made to make cross-border policing possible in specified circumstances.
  3. Together, both governments have set requirements for ticket sales and minimum conditions for deployment of stewards. The basic security assumptions surrounding Euro 2000 are that the organisers will bear primary responsibility inside, and the police outside the stadia.
  4. Effective communication is considered to make a significant contribution. This applies to public announcements with respect to tolerance limits, ticket policy as well as to police conduct and to mutual communication among the various organisations and individuals involved. An information folder explaining tolerance limits will be sent to those who buy tickets. Authorities in various participating countries will be asked to make announcements about tolerance limits. A binational information platform and a binational police information centre will be set up for the provision of administrative and operational intelligence. In the spring of 2000, a meeting of participating countries will be convened during which agreements will be made about the use of spotters, liaisons and related provision of information. Researchers from Belgium gathered information on the behaviour of fans attending international matches.
  5. As experiences from other tournaments indicated the complex but vital impact of ticketing, ticket sales will be regulated to bring about controlled sales. The aim is to bring about maximum fan separation and to eliminate the "anonymity" of spectators wherever possible. Both governments have reached a final agreement with UEFA/ Euro 2000 council about ticketing:


  1. In Belgium, but not in the Netherlands, administrative detention competencies exist. In the Netherlands, a bill is being prepared to be able to impose legal restrictions on the freedom of movement when necessary. The Schengen treaty (section 2, subsection 2) allows for the temporary reinstatement of border controls. In specific circumstances this possibility might be used.
  2. A binational police co-operation project has been set up In the course of the project, innovative ideas are being developed which are in line with a pro-active, preventive approach. This includes employing every means possible to avoid an image of "beleaguerment" (e.g. by using a zeppelin rather than helicopters to observe crowds) and the build-up of stress in the security forces.
  3. Other countries may also play a significant role in evaluation and communication. The development of a complementary media and communication strategy in participating countries may help to inform potential visitors and fans adequately before the event. Police spotters, stewards and fan coaches also contribute to an effective communication with fans, thereby avoiding misunderstandings and solving potential problems. In this respect, setting up temporary points of contact ("embassies" or an international supporters home) for foreign visitors could prove helpful.


G. Conclusion

  1. Football hooliganism is detrimental to the sport. Partly as a result of safety measures taken in the past, the manifestations of hooliganism have changed. To avoid excesses in hooliganism in future, repressive measures will have to be complemented by a social-preventive approach.
  2. From what we know, several elements are critical to avoid excesses in hooliganism:





Reporting committee: Committee on Culture and Education

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: None.

Reference to the committee: Doc. 8279 and Reference No 2350 of 25.10.1999

Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 2 September 1999


Members of the committee: MM. Nothomb (Chairman), Zingeris, Roseta, de Puig (Vice-Chairmen), , Arzilli, Bartumeu Cassany, Bauer, Baumel, Billing, Chiliman, Cubreacov, Diaz de Mera (Atl.: Varela), Dumitrescu (Alt.: Baciu), Mrs Fehr, Mr  Glotov, Mrs Gogoberidze, Mrs Granlund, MM. Hadjidemetriou, Hegyi, Hornhues (Alt.: Zierer), Irmer, Mrs Isohookana-Asunmaa, MM. Ivanov, Jakic, Kalkan, Mrs Katseli, MM. Kiely, Kofod-Svendsen, Kollwelter, Lachat, Mrs Laternser, MM. Legendre (Alt.: Mignon), Lemoine, Libicki, Mrs Lucyga, MM. Van der Maelen (Alt.: Staes), McNamara, Mezeckis, Mrs Moserova, Mrs Nemcova, MM. O’Hara, Pereira Marques, Pinggera, Polydoras, Mrs Poptodorova, MM. Pullicino Orlando, Radic, Ragno, Risari, Rockenbauer, Mrs Saele, Mr Saglam, Mrs Schicker, MM. Shaklein,), Mrs Stefani, MM. Sudarenkov, Svec, Symonenko, Tallo, Urbanczyk, Valk, Verbeek, Wilshire, Xhaferi, N … (Alt.: Manchulenko.


NB: The names of those who took part in the vote are in italics


Secretaries to the committee: Mr Ary, Mrs Theophilova-Permaul, Ms Kostenko






Record of Proceedings of the Hearing on Football Hooliganism

Paris, 10 May 1999


(organised by the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport of the Committee on Culture and Education)


Mr Jakic, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport (Committee on Culture and Education), opened the Hearing and welcomed participants. The hearing had been convened to help the Rapporteur, Mr Valk, in the preparation of his report. Based on the experience of the World Cup in France last year and on preparations for the Euro 2000, to take place in Belgium and the Netherlands, participants should try to identify the existing problems and possible solutions. Conclusions would be drawn in Mr Valk's report.


Mr Valk recalled that two weeks earlier Feyenoord had won the Dutch football championship in Amsterdam. After one or two hours celebrations things went astray and in the end the police had shot some fans. Some politicians advocated more repression and heavier sentences to counter hooliganism but this would not be enough. Prevention was also necessary.


In the Netherlands there were two major concerns about the Euro 2000: will the Netherlands win? and will there be violence and hooliganism? Whereas for the first concern the Council of Europe was not competent, for the second it should help in the identification of measures that could help preventing hooliganism, namely in the fields of fan coaching, ticket selling and giving a greater role for supporter's organisations.


Mr Jakic recalled the Written Declaration signed by Assembly Members, which stated that violence in sport was the action of a very small minority.


Mr Rop agreed that experience of the World Cup in France in 1998 was useful to prepare for Euro 2000. Three different circumstances, however called for concern: the area of Belgium and the Netherlands was much smaller than that of France and therefore mobility would be increased; contrary to France the Netherlands had a long tradition of football hooliganism; and finally there were now organised groups of hooligans using mobile phones and the internet. Preventive measures to be taken included separation of fans in stadia through ticketing, banning alcohol in a wide perimeter around stadia and stewarding groups of fans to and from the stadia. The Ministries of Interior of Belgium and the Netherlands had agreed on police co-operation.


Mr Bliki made the distinction between measures to be taken by the countries of origin of spectators and those to be taken by the organising countries of Euro 2000. Many spectator groups would come to Belgium and the Netherlands for a period of 3 weeks and it would be impossible for the local police to keep an eye on all of them for all that time.


Mr Williams stressed the fact that, contrary to what was commonly believed, hooligans were not a small minority of alienated young people. In England they were not so young, they come from mainstream and not marginalised backgrounds and they were not fascist or nazi. Therefore fan coaching and social measures were not appropriate to deal with this phenomenon. Research had indicated that hooliganism was related to certain notions of masculinity and national identity. In the Euro 2000 problems could be expected with supporters coming from the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Measures should be addressed in priority to these groups.


Mr Adang recalled that, since the adoption in 1985 of the Convention on Spectator Violence, many football competitions had taken place in Europe in which many incidents had occurred. It was interesting to analyse what had happened and what had not happened. He believed that many more nationalities were involved in hooliganism than just the four mentioned by the previous speaker.


Exchange of accurate and updated information was essential. Fan coaching from an early stage could play an important role in influencing supporters. The Council of Europe Convention of 1985 was very much about repression. It was worth looking whether it was still appropriate for the hooligans of the year 2000.


Mr Özyavuz pointed out that the Convention also addressed prevention. It had made an important contribution to reduce violence inside stadia. The problems had to a large extent moved to inner city areas, often merging with urban violence where the Convention was a less appropriate tool. The Schengen agreements made it easier for hooligans to travel.


Mr Jakic referred to the statement by Mr Williams and asked the experts to try to characterise hooligans.


Mr O'Hara recalled that the infrastructure in the Heysel stadium was appalling and responsible for the dramatic consequences of what had started as a minor incident. The same had happened in Hillsborough. Measures to be taken should not be based on misconceptions. He agreed with Mr Williams that hooligans were not marginal but mainstream behaving in an uncharacteristic way. The British tabloid press was scandalous in the way it presented football matches as if these were battles.


Mr Brekelmans indicated that hooligans were a minority group, not particularly interested in football, which wanted just to provoke violence. They were very difficult to identify and therefore to separate from other potentially problematic groups. He agreed that the presentation of sport events in some press was in part responsible for a climate of violence.


Mr Colvin asked whether there had been studies comparing violence in different sports, for example between soccer and rugby. What was the relationship between alcohol consumption and spectator violence? Referring to fences and cages in stadia, he pointed out that if people were treated like animals nobody should be surprised if they behaved like animals. He also agreed that hooligans were normal persons. In a commuter train he had himself watched how civilised office workers turned into maniacs by the combined effect of football results and beer consumption. He felt that bilateral agreements would not solve all the problems and that some sort of European legislation was needed.


Mr Elo said that in Finland spectator violence was almost inexistant. He wondered what was the influence of alcohol and drugs and what could be done to prevent alcohol and drugs being brought into stadia. Why was football the only "violent" sport? He believed that there was no stereotype for hooligans.


Mr Colvin drew the attention of participants to the positive role of football in showing how different races could work together for a common objective.


Mr O'Hara replied to Mr Elo that perhaps in the cases of rugby or ice hockey all the violence was kept in the pitch.


Mr Williams believed that Finland had no problem with spectator violence due to the way in which its society was organised and to its approach to national identity or gender equality issues. Football was the sport where more problems of violence were seen because of its universality but it was in no way the only "violent" sport. As a solution for football hooliganism he proposed to begin by identifying all the levels of society and all the groups of spectators involved. As far as the latter were concerned there were the core group of "troublemakers", a larger group who liked to be provoked and who would respond to provocation but would not start it and finally an even larger group who did not want to be involved. Each group should be addressed taking into account its specificity.


Mr Comeron stressed the importance of preventive measures. He felt it was essential to steward supporter groups.


Mr Baelemans pointed out that many more families attended rugby than football games. This accounted for a tighter "social control" of spectators. Role models were also responsible for more violence in football than in other sports. Finally he agreed that the lack of ethics in some media added to the phenomenon.


Mr Feral said that there was much more exchange of (relevant) information in the case of international matches between clubs than for those between national teams as host towns did not seem to feel concerned in the latter case. Taking the division of supporters into three groups the middle group, those who would not start the troubles but would respond to provocations, was the priority target for preventive measures. Alcohol was considered as an aggravating factor and therefore it was forbidden to sell or to bring inside stadia. This prohibition should now be extended to the surrounding areas.


Mr O'Hara felt that the function of football in society should not be overlooked as football provided an expression for latent sectarianism.


For Mr Adang there was nothing in particular that related football, rather than other sports, to violence. Many people did not become aggressive after drinking alcohol and therefore banning it would not solve the problem. Drugs, inasmuch as they reduced fear, were much more serious a problem and much more difficult to tackle.


Mr Terraube pointed out that major events had to be prepared with special care. Mayors and municipalities had to be involved. In addition to stadia airports and railway stations should also be monitored. He disagreed that most hooligans came from Great Britain, Holland, Germany or Belgium. They could come from anywhere. For example many Greek supporters of Panathinaikos some times behave as hooligans. However most supporters were not hooligans and should not be treated as such. Most violent incidents did not take place in stadia or during matches: they could happen anytime anywhere.


Mr Colvin referred to Dublin as an example of non-sectarianism. The supporters of Southampton were known for their good behaviour. They were part of a very strong community and fairly large numbers of women and children attended football matches. He wondered whether there was a critical mass of spectators above which matches became potentially dangerous.


Mr Beorlegui Ibars confirmed that in general there was no longer violence in stadia during football matches in Europe. The Council of Europe Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in Particular at Football Matches had made stadia safer by proscribing the sale of alcohol and by fostering international co-operation. There was however a general problem of violence in society which could not be addressed by the Convention. Compared to violence in general, that related to football was over emphasised by the media. The press had a large responsibility for violence. He believed that those responsible for the violent incidents did not like football. A long-term solution for football related violence had to be based on education for young people in general, on the social integration of hooligans and on co-operation with supporter groups, clubs and the police.


Mr Comeron agreed that the media had a perverse effect by helping to create a psychotic mood that was favourable to the outburst of violent incidents.


Mr O'Hara believed that it was not enough to prevent known hooligans from getting into stadia as in fact they were not interested in football. They should be prevented from travelling to the locations where "risk" matches were to take place. The separation of different groups of supporters by rows of stewards wearing distinctive clothes (for instance yellow jackets) was efficient but perhaps too expensive.


Mr Valk wound up the discussion. Many participants had highlighted the role of the press. Football matches were often described in an almost military way but this was considered as part of the whole culture of football. It should be made again a family sport. Clubs should also pay more attention to preventive work with supporters and to fan coaching. It would be very difficult to influence "hard core hooligans" and therefore prevention should concentrate on those supporters who were not yet but who risked becoming hooligans. All participant countries in the Euro 2000 should send stewards and fan-coaches with their teams. It was not clear how effective the prohibition of stadia to known hooligans was. Perhaps these should be obliged to present themselves in police stations at a certain time.


He would now continue to work on his report and hoped to be able to submit it to the Committee on Culture and Education during the September Assembly session.


Mr Jakic thanked all the participants for a very interesting, albeit short, discussion and closed the Hearing.




List of participants


Parliamentarias, members of the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport

MM JAKIC Roman (Chairman), Slovenia

ELO Mikko (Vice-Chairman), Finland

COLVIN Michael, United Kingdom

DIAS Laurentino, Portugal


KIELY Rory, Ireland

Mrs LUCYGA Christine, Germany

MM O'HARA Edward, United Kingdom


VALK Gerrit (Rapporteur), Netherlands

ZIERER Beno, Germany


Invited experts

MM ADANG Otto M.J., consultant. Somerenseweg 13, NL – 5591 JV Heeze.

BAELEMANS Eddy, Liaison Officer, Ministry of the Interior, Algemene Rijkspolitie. Leuvenseweg 3, B - 1000 Brussels. Belgium

BEORLEGUI IBARS Juan Ramon, Chairman of the Standing Committee on the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in Particular at Football Matches (CDDS). ). Inspector General de Federaciones Deportivas, Consejo Superior de Deportes c/ Martin Fierro s/n, E – 28040 Madrid

BLIKI Herman, Coordinateur de la police Euro 2000, Gendarmerie Belge. Direction Générale des Opérations. Fritz Toussaintstraat 47, B -1050 Bruxelles. Belgium

BREKELMANS Theo, Assistant Chief Constable. Project manager Euro 2000. PO Box 2000, NL – 3500 GA Utrecht. Netherlands

COMERON Manuel, Chargé de mission "Prévention hooliganisme", European Forum for Urban Security. Rue de Liancourt, 38, F – 75014 Paris. France

FERAL Marc, Direction Générale de la Police Nationale. 4, rue Cambacérès, F -75008 Paris. France

GROENEVELT Henk, Centraal Informatiepunt Voetbalvandalisme. Postbus 8300, NL – 3503 RH Utrecht. Netherlands

ROP Nico, Representative of the Ministry of the Interior. PO Box 10011, NL – 2500 EA The Hague. Netherlands

TERRAUBE Thierry, Commandant de Police, Centre National Etudes et Formation de la Police National. BP 41, F – 91112 Gif s/Yvette France

WILLIAMS John, Director, Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, University of Leicester. GB – Leicester LE7 1RH. United Kingdom


Secretariat of the Council of Europe:

Directorate of Education, Culture and Sport

Mr ÖZYAVUZ, Sports Division



Office of the Clerk

MM GRAYSON, Head of the Division on Culture and Science

ARY, Secretary to the Committee

Mrs NOTHIS, Administrative assistant