By George Psyllides
A government bill to tackle hooliganism aims to lift fan anonymity but there is no intention of keeping records on people, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Wednesday.
Presenting the bill to the House Legal Affairs Committee, Nicolaou stressed it was important to adopt all the measures in their entirety as hooliganism could not be fought through piecemeal measures.
Nicolaou added however that the government was prepared to discuss any suggestions or concerns voiced by those affected.
“We are ready to listen to the concerns and amend the provisions of the bill provided it would not harm the effectiveness of identifying each person that enters a stadium,” Nicolaou said.
The minister said there was no intention of keeping tabs on people, adding that records would only be handled by authorised people.
Perhaps the most contentious provision is the need for a fan card that will be issued either by the clubs or the island’s sports federation.
The bill also bans fans from covering their faces inside the stadium and the surrounding area.
Supporters could also be banned from attending their team’s away games.
MPs heard that the bill did not tackle the substantial delays observed in trying hooliganism related cases.
Nicolaou said it would be unconstitutional to set a timeframe to try a case but a solution could possibly be found in the form of a procedural rule.
Football related violence has escalated in recent years with authorities appearing unwilling or unable to do anything substantive to tackle the scourge.