Belarus planning to tighten grip on violent football fans


Belarus planning to tighten grip on violent football fans

The Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs offers a number of initiatives to improve safety at football matches. Conflicts between police and fans often cause a public outcry. And the legal field here is a bit blurry, experts say. For example, the new law may specify such terms as "fan", "volunteer" and "steward". 

Stewards may be granted the right to check the documents of citizens and to inspect personal belongings. Particularly hard-core football hooligans will be deprived of the right to attend matches. These and other initiatives are now open for public discussion.

Vladimir Machulsky, head of Belarusian club of FC Real Madrid fans: 
Will there be people with cameras watching everyone at the arena? How do you imagine this? It all depends on what a person did. If a person is swearing at the stadium, then it would be very harsh to ban this person from attending football games just because of incorrect words caused by emotions. In Europe, we see very few police in the stadiums, mainly there are stewards.

Stewards are in fact civilians and the question is whether one should entrust them stadium security. At BATE Borisov's stadium Borisov Arena, stewards are already working at Belarusian Championship matches.

Sergey Yakimovich, senior inspector of the department of law enforcement and prevention of the Borisov district police department:
When the police is in place it is good, but fans don't like it when the police are inside the stadium's bowl. Therefore, it was decided that stewards will work at the stadium to protect public order.

The presence of the stewards does not rule out police presence. Stewards are not passers-by: they are trained to ensure they can respond adequately in case of an emergency situation.

Dmitry Kuryan, head of law enforcement department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
Anyway, we [police - note by] will still have coordinating role in ensuring the protection of public order. At the same time we will pay more attention to the surrounding area. If necessary, the law-enforcement bodies will react immediately to any situation that will occur directly inside the bowl of the stadium.

What about foreign countries? In Scotland, aggressive fans can go to jail for up to 5 years, in France drunk fans face a fine of 7,500 euros. In Switzerland, violent fans are not let outside the country for an away game in which his football club will play.