Up to ten years stadium ban and zero tolerance for racism: Chamber approves stricter rules in football stadiums

The bill by Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) is in line with the action plan “Together for safe football” that she launched last year. The text also came about after football was shaken more than once by incidents with fans, including matches that had to be stopped. At the vote there were only abstentions from N-VA, Vlaams Belang and PVDA.

The text seeks to make competition organizers more accountable by mandatorily sensitizing supporters about the prohibition of pyrotechnic objects, racism and xenophobia, by emphasizing the scope of the general duty of vigilance and, finally, by providing for heavier minimum penalties for organizers who violate the obligations regarding ticket management and video surveillance.

The new law also provides for tougher penalties and better protection for security personnel. The minimum and maximum penalties for supporters who do not comply with the rules will increase. This includes the stadium ban, which can be extended to ten years, compared to the current five years.

For the first time, a minimum penalty is also provided for in cases of racism or xenophobia. In that case, the minimum penalty will be a stadium ban of 30 months and a fine of 1,500 euros. The sanctions for racism or xenophobia are thus in principle on the same level as those for the use of Bengali fire.

© Isosport

In both cases, these are minimum sanctions. Therefore, the circumstances must always be taken into account. In the case of anti-Semitic chants, for example, repeat offenders or instigators receive a heavier penalty. This also applies, of course, to other facts, such as the use of Bengal fire.

Finally, the draft law stipulates that stewards and security agents now have the power to ask the holder of an admission ticket to show his or her identity card during an access control, and that insofar as the Royal Decree on ticket sales applies, i.e. for national and international competitions. .

Opposition party N-VA thought the text was a creditable attempt, but it doesn’t go far enough in some areas and just too far in others, according to Koen Metsu. He also tabled amendments to tighten up the text, but they did not reach the finish line. Like Gaby Colebunders (PVDA), he cited the example of pyrotechnic material. “One pyrotechnic material is not the other,” says the PVDA member.

Minister Verlinden replied that her legislative text leaves the door open for a pilot project in which pyrotechnic material is used in a professional manner within the safety limits, but that she has not yet received an action plan that is supported by all clubs. “I invite you to look at people who have had to undergo amputation due to pyrotechnic material,” she defended the tightening in the design.

© BELGIUM

Barbara Pas (Vlaams Belang) thought that too much weight was placed on the clubs and feared the costs involved. “These are professional organizers of large-scale events, not once, but every weekend,” says Verlinden. “There is no such thing as a free lunch. If they don’t pay, the taxpayer will have to foot the bill. I think that the organizers can be asked to make an effort.”

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