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Saint-Denis Convention

The aim of the Saint-Denis Convention is to make football matches and other sporting events more welcoming, safe and secure.

The aim of the Saint-Denis Convention is to make football matches and other sporting events more welcoming, safe and secure.

On 31 October 2023, the UK Government formally ratified the Saint-Denis Convention on an integrated safety, security and service approach at football matches and other sports events. 

The UK was the 28th country to ratify this, establishing co-operation between all stakeholders involved in the organisation of football matches and other sports events.

Aim of the convention

The principal aim of the convention is to go from a violence-focused approach towards an integrated approach based on three independent pillars: safety, security and service.

The two main characteristics of this convention are:

  • the integrated approach: safety, security and service are considered as three interdependent pillars: safety, security and service measures cannot be implemented in isolation and security should never overrule safety and service;
  • the multi-agency approach means that a range of agencies or stakeholders must be involved in the safety and security of a sports event and that no single stakeholder, e.g. the police, can address this issue alone.

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.

To this end, it sets out a number of measures, namely:

  • close co-operation between police forces involved;
  • prosecution of offenders and application of appropriate penalties;
  • strict control of ticket sales;
  • restrictions on the sale of alcoholic drinks; and
  • appropriate design and physical fabric of stadia to prevent violence and allow effective crowd control and crowd safety.

What is meant by safety, security and service?

The convention outlines the following three definitions for the safety, security and service:

Safety –  measures aimed at preventing people from being injured or exposed to risks to their health or well-being at sporting events. These measures relate to the infrastructure and certification of stadiums, emergency response plans and rules on the consumption of alcohol. Safety measures also serve to protect people when they travel to the event and in public viewing areas outside sports venues.

Security – measures designed to prevent, deter and punish violence and disorder at football matches, both inside and outside the stadium. These measures include risk assessment, co-operation between the police and other relevant agencies and the introduction of sanctions.

Service – measures to make football matches enjoyable and welcoming for all, not only in the sports venues but also in the public areas where spectators and groups of supporters gather before, during and after the matches. This includes physical elements such as catering and sanitary facilities, but focuses on the way spectators are welcomed and treated throughout the event.

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Safety, security and service

The delivery of a safe event is achieved by an integrated and balanced approach to safety, security and service.

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The Council of Europe offers a number of factsheets which provide further detail on the convention, including:

  • The Convention in brief
  • A multi-agency integrated approach
  • Overview of trends and challenges
  • Sharing good practice
  • Safety: How to assess, identify and manage risks at sporting events
  • Security: what is it about
  • Service at football matches: what is it about

The Council of Europe’s Factsheets portal provides access to these.

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Council of Europe standards training

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