Council of Europe Convention Signed

This week the UK Government has signed the Council of Europe Convention on an integrated safety, security and service approach at football matches and other sports events.  We join 14 other countries across Europe who have signed the convention, including France, Russia and Portugal.

This convention is the only internationally binding instrument to establish an integrated approach based on safety, security and service. It also promotes co-operation between all public and private stakeholders: governments, municipal authorities, police, football authorities and also supporters, in order to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment at football matches and other sports events, whether it be inside or outside the stadia.

Role of Football Authorities and Football Clubs

The key function and responsibility of the football authorities, in particular the event organiser, is to provide stadia that are safe, secure and welcoming for all participants and spectators. This is a complex and multi-faceted responsibility which European experience evidences is best vested in a designated stadium safety officer.

The establishment of effective national multi-agency co-ordination arrangements, highlighted above, can be crucial in providing a forum in which the football authorities and partner agencies can share perspectives and operating imperatives in order to develop a joint partnership ethos and complementary operating strategies.

The national co-ordination arrangements also provide a platform for the football authorities to consult the police and other partner agencies in determining and refining policies on a range of in-stadia safety, security and service considerations, including: ticketing, sale and consumption of alcohol, pyrotechnics, segregation of rival supporters (inside and on the approaches to and from stadia), entry checks and controls, counter-terrorist measures, and threats posed by organised criminality (for example, counterfeit tickets and the unauthorised sale of tickets through the black market).

Provision within the Convention applicable to the UK Football Authorities.

ARTICLE 5 – Safety, Security and Service in Sports Stadia

The Parties shall encourage their competent agencies to highlight the need for players, coaches or other representatives of participating teams to act in accordance with key sporting principles, such as tolerance, respect and fair play, and recognise that acting in a violent, racist or other provocative manner can have a negative impact on spectator behaviour.

ARTICLE 6 – Safety, Security and Service in Public Places

The Parties undertake to encourage all agencies and stakeholders involved in organising football and other sports related events in public spaces, including the municipal authorities, police, local communities and businesses, supporter representatives, football clubs and national associations, to work together, notably in respect of:
a) assessing risk and preparing appropriate preventative measures designed to minimise disruption and provide reassurance to local communities and businesses, in particular those located in the vicinity of where the event is taking place or public viewing areas; and
b) generating a safe, secure and welcoming environment in public spaces that are designated for supporters to gather before and after the event, or locations in which supporters can be expected to frequent of their own volition, and along transit routes to and from the city and/or to and from stadia.

ARTICLE 8 – Engagement with Supporters and Local Communities

The Parties undertake to encourage all agencies to develop and pursue a policy of pro-active and regular communication with key stakeholders, including supporter representatives and local communities, based on the principles of dialogue, and with aim of generating a partnership ethos and positive co-operation as well as identifying solutions to potential problems.

The Parties undertake to encourage all public and private agencies and other stakeholders, including local communities and supporter representatives, to initiate or participate in multi-agency social, educational, crime prevention and other community projects designed to foster mutual respect and understanding, especially amongst supporters, sports clubs and associations as well as safety and security agencies.

View the full Convention text.

Safety – Recommended Good Practices

Annex A (Safety – Recommended Good Practices) provides a wide range of guidance in respect of stadium safety imperatives designed to assist the football authorities and their safety personnel fulfil their crucial safety obligations.

Extract

G         Football Authorities and Safety

23.       National governing bodies of football, for example football federations and, if different, the relevant league and cup authorities, have an important role to play and a vested interest in making football stadia safe.  Their role may vary across Europe but usually includes stadium licensing and other regulatory responsibilities  In terms of stadium safety management arrangements, the governing bodies should consider how best to ensure consistency in the approach adopted nationwide through the provision of guidance or instructions, for example:

  • model stadium (ground) regulations setting out conditions of entry, behavioural codes of conduct for spectators, prohibited items and other information (see Appendix 16);
  • minimum stadium safety standards and obligations;
  • provision of advisory services for  stadium safety officers;
  • model agreements between stadium safety officers and the police and other emergency services regarding respective roles and responsibilities.

24.       The participation of the governing bodies in the national co-ordination arrangements should provide opportunity to identify and consider the merits of providing other infrastructural and advisory services and ensure that whatever is proposed is consistent with national laws and regulations and in harmony with the national multi-agency safety, security and service strategy.”