Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events

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Publication Date March 2018
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Background information:

Sport is the principal activity organised on a non-governmental basis in Europe, which attracts more spectators, and generates more positive and negative passions and actions, than any other activity. Sport is also the most widely covered activity in the press and broadcasting media. Incidents of violence, disorder and other misbehaviour have long been associated with football, the world’s leading spectator sport. However, in the eighties, a number of high profile incidents of violence and disorder associated with international football matches and tournaments demonstrated that the so-called problem of “football hooliganism” was a European-wide phenomenon, which required a European institutional response by the Council of Europe. The challenge for the Council of Europe was, and remains, how to spread its core values in and through sport while preventing and countering behaviour (violence, doping, manipulation of competitions, etc.) that threatened the integrity of football, other sports and the wider community.

The purpose of the Convention is to ensure that football and other sports events provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all individuals through the implementation of an integrated approach on safety, security and service at sports events by a plurality of actors working in a partnership amid an ethos of co-operation.

To guarantee a welcoming atmosphere inside and outside stadiums, the Convention commits signatory States’ authorities to: encourage public agencies and private stakeholders (local authorities, police, football clubs, national federations, and supporters) to work together in the preparation and running of football matches; ensure that stadium infrastructure complies with national and international standards for effective crowd management and safety; ensure that spectators feel welcome and well-treated throughout events, including by making stadiums more accessible to children, the elderly and people with disabilities. A number of measures are also envisaged to prevent and punish acts of violence, including stadium bans, sanctions procedures or restrictions on travelling abroad to football events.

Preparing the Convention:

This convention will replace the 1985 European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sport Events and in particular at Football Matches (ETS No. 120).
The committee of experts tasked with monitoring application of the 1985 Convention produce assessments, before and after major international tournaments (World Cup, European Championships), of the safety measures taken.
This Convention was drawn up very quickly and opened for signature on 19 August 1985. The Convention entered into force on 1 November 1985 and has been ratified since then by 42 States Parties. This Convention focused on preventing, deterring and responding to incidents of violence and misbehaviour inside or within the vicinity of stadiums. The content reflected the views and practices of that era, comprising a range of security provisions designed to control crowds through measures like the use of barriers and fencing, the deployment of public order resources and forces, etc.

Over the past decade, it became increasingly apparent that the content of the 1985 Convention was inappropriate and inconsistent with, and in some respects contradictory to, the approach and good practices established in recent years.
At the 12th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport, held in Belgrade in March 2012, it was proposed that the Standing Committee should study the extent to which it is necessary to update the European Convention on Spectator Violence. A study on the merits and desirability of updating the 1985 European Convention was duly undertaken and submitted to the Committee of Ministers in December 2013. In the light of the study, the Committee of Ministers decided in December 2013 to update the Convention, and instructed the Standing Committee to revise the Convention.

The 2017 Convention incorporates key principles centred on the need to adopt an integrated, multi-agency approach towards three pillars: safety, security and service; and a partnership ethos between all agencies and stakeholders involved in making football and other sports events safe, secure and welcoming for all.
The title of the Convention: “Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events” reflects its primary aim and content. The emphasis throughout is on developing a multi-agency, integrated approach based on a plurality of agencies working in a partnership amid an ethos of co-operation and determination to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all individuals at football and other sports events.

The text also provides a mechanism for monitoring compliance with, and for providing support and advice on implementation of, the Convention through the establishment of a “Committee on Safety and Security at Sports Events”.

The Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events was opened for signature on 3 July 2016 in Saint-Denis (France), at a UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final match.

Related Link(s)
Council of Europe: Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events (CETS, No.218) https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/218
Council of Europe: Explanatory Report on the Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events https://rm.coe.int/168071edc0
Safety, Security and Service Website https://www.coe.int/en/web/sport/safety-security-and-service-approach-convention

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