This website highlights the ways in which ordinary law-abiding football fans are being treated like criminals.
For merely attending a match and supporting their team, fans are subject to a series of special controls and restrictions which do not apply to supporters of other sports.
There are 11 laws which apply only to football fans, creating offences which would not be an offence in a rugby or cricket stadium.
It is an offence to carry alcohol into a football stadium, to drink in view of the pitch, to sell or give away tickets, or to throw any item in the air, however innocuous.
Football fans are also subject to special powers. Under Football Banning Orders, they can be banned from attending matches or asked to surrender their passports when club and country play abroad. Police forces can control fans’ travel to away matches, in some cases creating ‘bubble’ match restrictions, which ban independent travel on public transport or in cars.
This regulation exists at a time when football-related violence and disruption is at an all-time low. There were only 2,273 arrests in the 2013-14 season, out of 38 million spectators. Of these arrests, 1101 were for ‘football-only’ offences, such as pitch invasion, resale of tickets or possessing alcohol (i.e., for things that would not have been an offence outside a footballing context). In the 2014-15 season there were only 1,873 arrests, and only 300 of these were for violent disorder. This means one arrest for 20,000 football fans (which compares well to Glastonbury last year, at which there was one arrest for every 1,800 attendees).
We are calling for a change of practice and of mindset, and a recognition that attending a football match is in principle no different to attending another sports or public event.
The fact that someone is a football fan doesn’t justify depriving them of their rights to free movement or due process; the fact that an act takes place in a football stadium doesn’t make it more criminal than if it takes place elsewhere.
Football fans should be credited with the basic rights of due process and freedom of movement that should be held in common by citizens and supporters of all sports.
This campaign was set up by the civil liberties group the Manifesto Club, which has campaigned against the incursion upon football-fans’ freedoms and written reports on ‘bubble’ matches. Contact us: email@example.com