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Collective sanctions “wrong and unfair” say European fans

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Collective punishments for fans – games played behind closed doors, for example – remain a controversial issue. Our European counterparts, Football Supporters’ Europe (FSE), met with UEFA president Michel Platini on Sunday to discuss fans’ concerns about these sanctions. FSE maintain they punish the innocent as well as the guilty and discourage fans from reporting racist incidents. Here is their statement following that meeting…

“On 16 March, the annual meeting of the FSE Committee with UEFA took place, together with our partners Supporters Direct Europe and Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE). Whilst progress was made and joint actions were discussed with regards to nominative ticket schemes and travel restrictions, we had to register that UEFA was still unwilling to move even an inch in its position on collective punishments of fans.  

“The FSE Committee is still missing a sign of understanding from UEFA for the fact that punishing fans that haven’t done anything wrong whatsoever, is unjust, doesn’t meet judicial principles and is hence counter-productive to motivating fans in the important commitment against racism. 

“The justified complaints of supporter groups from Bayern, Manchester City or Northern Ireland, amongst others, that were presented by FSE Committee members in the meeting, didn’t change this. These cases refer in particular to the situation of away supporters who are punished for the behaviour of usually a minority of fans, and crucially of innocent fans of the other club, and till today haven’t even been compensated for their expenses relating to tickets, travel and accommodation.

“UEFA thereby imposes the biggest negative impact on fans who have had no involvement in the racist incidents and who in some cases have even engaged in activities against discrimination themselves as supporters.

“The FSE Committee is therefore unable to understand the predominant view of UEFA that this system of mass punishments has been a success. 

“That this isn’t the case is not only shown by the fact that some of the same clubs still repeatedly receive sanctions for racist conduct of fans, but also by the European protest campaign “#Respect Fans” against these measures which has been joined by major non-racist supporter groups from more than 15 clubs playing in European club competitions this season.

“This clearly illustrates that the sanction logic of UEFA has to be considered in essential parts as unsustainable, wrong and unfair. The FSE Committee explicitly supports these protests and calls for fans to condemn the imposition of collective punishments on fans innocent of any offences and to intensify these protests, where appropriate.

“We urge UEFA to recognise and address fans’ concerns on this integral issue, as otherwise we fear a continued radicalisation of the wider fan movement as a reaction to this position. This cannot be in anybody’s interest. Despite our great disappointment about the outcome of this meeting, FSE therefore remains ready for dialogue with UEFA.

“It would be a crucial sign of a positive partnership that UEFA will make a move towards all the non-racist supporters, with an honest intention and true will to eradicate the current injustices in this system.”

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