By George Psyllides
LEGISLATION to tackle football-related violence is expected to be put to the vote today, despite disagreement from the main opposition party AKEL, which wants the vote postponed.
House Legal Affairs committee chairman, DISY MP Sotiris Sampson, said parties have serious reservations about the bill, which will, nevertheless, be referred to the plenum.
He added that provisions to help fight hooliganism had to be passed before the season kicked off.
Ruling DISY wants the bill to be approved as-is, while the other parties plan to submit amendments.
The bill introduces new features to help fight hooliganism: a supervisory authority will be created to inspect stadium safety, terraces will be divided into sections for seated fans, families, and standing supporters, and more importantly it provides for the introduction of a fan identity card that authorities hope would stamp out anonymity.
The bill also creates a series of criminal offences related to hurling objects, using abusive and racist language, gestures, slogans, and songs, covered faces within the grounds and in adjacent areas, and being drunk or high on drugs.
It also bans standing repeatedly and without good reason in an area designated for seated fans.
AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said that DISY was ignoring many factors that would prevent the legislation from being implemented.
The party wants the bill to be discussed further and put to the vote in a couple of weeks.
Included in the list were the objections raised by Limassol clubs to put any money into making the obsolete Tsirion stadium compliant, especially after
President Nicos Anastasiades’ pledge to build a new stadium.
The football association (KOP) has also voiced concern over its ability o cover the cost of the measures that must be put in place, Damianou said.
Beyond these, the AKEL MP said the bill included provisions that were unacceptable in a modern society.
Case in point was making standing in an undesignated area a criminal offense punishable with up to three years in jail, he said. And jailing someone because they moved from one area of the stadium to another.
It was not right for those punished for these offences to be placed under house arrest with a tag on their leg, Damianou added.
He said the current legal framework included strict penalties which have never been enforced, as were the rules on stadium safety.
And they have never been enforced because those responsible did not show the necessary will to do so, he concluded.