MEPs recommend authorising member states to ratify the Council of Europe convention on safety and security at football matches and other sports events.

The new convention aims at addressing the challenges caused by the great increase in the number of European citizens attending football matches and other sports events in the last decades. The EP recommendation was adopted on Tuesday with 633 votes to 22 and 14 abstentions.

MEPs welcome the convention’s “balanced approach” between the three independent pillars in which it is divided, namely safety, security and service. Safety measures are aimed at protecting individuals both on their journey and in the venue of the sports event. Security measures will “deter, prevent and sanction” any violent behaviour related to football matches. Finally, service measures will ensure stadiums and other sports facilities are welcoming for everyone, including children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Crowd management and anti-discrimination measures

All parties to the Convention are required to adopt clear and concrete measures on crowd management and associated safety and security risks. The text underlines the importance of tackling any discriminatory behaviour, including racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic aggressions. It is necessary to improve diversity in sports and to encourage athletes and clubs to fight discriminations, MEPs say.

The new convention updates the 1985 European Convention on Spectator Violence. The number of football matches and sports events has importantly increased since then. EU citizens now travel throughout Europe to support their teams. Public viewing and fan areas have also changed. The EU cannot become party to the Convention and, due to the content of some of its paragraphs, member states will only be able to adopt it if allowed by the EU.

The Council can now give green light to EU countries to ratify the Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and other Sports Events.