The French National Assembly today debated a highly controversial and problematic new piece of special legislation targeting football fans. Using EURO2016 as an argument, the law was drawn up & put forward for adoption within less than three weeks.
Whilst it includes positive elements such as the requirement for clubs to establish structured dialogue with their supporters (which is so far pretty much non-existent in France), these positive elements are set to be by far outweighed by seemingly draconian measures, amongst others, allowing clubs to ban supporters from entry to their stadia without any judicial basis or due process in place.
The members of the Committee of Football Supporters Europe (FSE) are urging French authorities / institutions to substantially review this legislation.
From the perspective of the wider membership of Football Supporters Europe in 40+ countries, it has established as a clear minimum principle, that any stadium bans and other exclusion measures need to adhere to judicial principles in order for them to be legitimate and, most importantly, effective. This has to include the presumption of innocence before being proven guilty. Experience has shown that in countries where these principles aren’t followed, such as Germany, stadium banning orders are facing massive opposition or lack of acceptance from among both organised and non-organised supporters, leading to counter-productive enforcement of the law.
Above all, it seems cynical that a legislation seeking to introduce supporter dialogue was rushed through and not at all elaborated in consultation with the clubs, let alone the supporters.
Ahead of EURO 2016, this raises some serious questions on whether France is really set to host a festive event that can welcome its own committed supporters and football-loving citizens inside the stadia as key stakeholders, rather than just as a problem.
The Committee of Football Supporters Europe