By Peter Stevenson
ANYONE taken to court for causing trouble at a football match will be banned from entering a stadium under new measures, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Thursday.
Speaking after the end of a meeting with police on hooliganism, Nicolaou said the beginning of the season was looming and that there were concerns over possible violence.
“The championship has yet to begin and we are witnessing trouble during friendly matches, something that no logical person can understand,” he said.
During the meeting it was decided that efforts would be made to enforce the measures which were decided by the police and justice ministry.
“We will proceed by studying the creation of a software system which will use photographic material taken from trouble at matches to identify those involved in violence,” Nicolaou said.
The minister said officers and members of the riot squad would take part in a three-day training course about how to deal with crowds and how to calmly deal with any incidents. By September 15, Nicolaou said he hoped that police officers would receive extra riot training.
“There will be undercover officers at matches who will help deal with any problems and also help in clarifying who the wrongdoers are,” he said.
A bill has been prepared and sent to legal services for approval which would allow the chief of police to be able to ban people who have caused trouble at football matches in the past, the minister said.
“We have put forward an amendment which will allow cases of football violence to be tried within 24 hours of the episode so a court can also ban anyone on trial from entering a stadium until their case has been tried,” Nicolaou said.
He added that in cases where someone was convicted of causing trouble at a football match they would also be banned from going to matches.
Nine Apollon fans were arrested earlier this month following trouble before a friendly game between their team and Anorthosis at the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium in Larnaca.
A 20-year-old man was left with severe burns and placed in the intensive care unit of Nicosia general hospital at the time.