Posted on 24th February 2016
Health and Health Insurance
Posted on 24th February 2016
This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.
FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks has had some ridiculous cases across her desk recently – many seeing fans inconvenienced and let down by football clubs all in the name of safety and security. She tells us more about this trend…
Football will never be truly fan friendly until it stops treating supporters like potential public order problems rather than the law abiding people the over whelming majority are.
I open with a caveat to make it clear that I’m fully aware that out of the millions and millions of us who attend football matches each season there are, proportionally, a very small number whose behaviour will lead to either an ejection or arrest.
As it always has done and always will, football is reflection of society yet fans are still treated as a breed apart.
In recent weeks, I’ve had some interesting cases across my desk, all of which reinforce the idea that football clubs don’t recognise supporters as legitimate, valued customers rather a homogenous group of people that have the potential to pose a threat to safety and security.
I’d like to think the above are extreme examples and perhaps they are, but at the other end of the scale, it’s ironic, isn’t it, that you can buy a hot drink with a lid but not a bottle of juice or water?
If you want to take a flag over a certain size into a ground, you’ll have several hurdles to jump over including ensuring your flag has a fire certificate.
One of the reasons for the fire certificate, I’ve been told anecdotally, is that a fan objecting to the flag may attempt to set fire to it. That a hot drink has a lid and a cold one doesn’t is for ‘health and safety’. Logical, but most fans would agree that the real reason they can’t be trusted with a bottle with a lid is because they may use it as a missile.
They may also use the hot drink as well, but no club would take the step to ban hot drinks on those grounds making the removal of lids from cold drinks irrational and disproportionate.
Security concerns of course take on an added dimension in these troubling times and to have a reasonable expectation that a football club, indeed any venue take steps to ensure safety is something we all take for granted.
I am aware that I am venturing into the realms of conflating two separate issues here, but my concern is – highlighted by the ludicrous search for IEDs – is that in the name of preventing terrorist attacks, football fans may be subjected to more impositions than they would if attending another event attracting hundreds or thousands of people. I hope I’m wrong.
By the same token, football clubs in general need to acknowledge that the vast majority of fans attending matches in their stadiums are going to behave despite security measures and the presence of heavy duty response teams and not because of them and treat them accordingly.
Rules (such as not selling to those without a purchase history) imposed on an ad-hoc basis need to have a degree of flexibility about them; clubs need to appreciate that fans will sometimes attend as neutrals not because they want to start a riot, but simply because, notwithstanding their support of their own team, they enjoy watching live football. And this is particularly relevant of clubs known to attract ‘football tourists’ from around the world.
Any measures imposed on supporters need to be because they’ve been decided on after a per match, comprehensive risk assessment and not generically decided upon (bottle top removal) or because somebody threw a coin in 2001 or there was a fight in 1978 and far more importantly not “just because these are football fans we’re dealing with here”.
Watching Football Is Not A Crime! is part of the FSF’s ongoing drive to monitor the police in their dealings with football fans and work with them to ensure that all fans are treated fairly and within the law. You can contact FSF Caseworker Amanda Jacks via:
Thanks to Action Images for the picture used in this blog.
Chelsea fans are being urged to get in touch with the club and supporter representatives after an incident in Barcelona last night.
Following a request by the FSF’s Premier League Fans Group we asked all top-flight clubs if they could provide information relating to their security policies – just what is and isn’t allowed into grounds? See their answers below.