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Cyprus

Government plans to amend penalties linked to fan cards

Football hooligan armed with a flare (CM archives)

 

The government said on Monday it will not be scrapping the controversial sports fan card but it will look into amending provisions to reduce certain offences included in the wider law from criminal to disciplinary.

The announcement was made by Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou following a meeting with the football association (CFA) and the sports organisation.

The CFA suggested the fan card has caused a 30 per cent reduction in ticket sales although observers suggest that live television broadcasting, match-fixing and poor performances by certain teams, had probably caused more damage to the game.

Aimed at tackling hooliganism, the fan card was introduced last August following a long discussion in parliament and football clubs mainly on concerns of violation of personal data, as its holders have to provide some details such as identity number and address to have it issued.

It was opposed by fan clubs of all major football clubs, citing concerns that police would use the data to keep tabs on them.

Admission to any sports venue as of last August is granted only to those possessing the card.

On Monday, Nicolaou said the card and the registry will remain in place but certain changes in the provisions that are currently treated as criminal offences will be reviewed.

“There will be a review of these criminal offences and wherever it is determined that it was not necessary to remain one, they will be converted to disciplinary offences with clubs having the responsibility,” Nicolaou said.

The CFA will adjudicate on the cases and decide on what penalties it will impose on the club as it had done in the past.

A club would then judge if it should go after the spectator who broke the law, the minister said.

During the meeting, it was also decided to look further into the reasons why people chose not to attend football games.

Nicolaou told reporters that the change would not mean relaxing measures and effectively encouraging people to break the law.

“On the contrary, we are further facilitating a more effective control of these acts, which could be avoided with the help of the clubs.”

Being responsible for crowd trouble inside the stadium, a club would make sure to prevent such acts, the minister said.

To a suggestion that what is being proposed was a return to past measures, i.e. punishing the club if its fans hurled flares, the minister said the act had various aspects.

Someone hurling a flare, which put lives in danger was different from throwing one in an empty space, Nicolaou said.

“There are different aspects that must be examined and clarified in the legislation,” he said.