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Memorandum of understanding to combat stadium violence signed

The Minister of Justice Anna Procopiou, signs a Memorandum of Understanding and an Action Plan to combat fan violence at sports venues
The Minister of Justice Anna Procopiou, signs a Memorandum of Understanding and an Action Plan to combat fan violence at sports venues

High-definition CCTV cameras to be installed at stadiums after competent stakeholders signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday aiming to tackle violence in stadiums.

The memorandum, which includes an action plan to tackle sport violence, was signed this morning at the justice ministry by minister Anna Procopiou and relevant stakeholders. The plan is focused on prevention and repression of sports violence and includes four pillars for which there will be joint cooperation of the bodies involved.

These concern prevention, raising awareness, upgrading of safety measures, and upgrading of the stadiums, as well as legislative amendments and repressive measures and supervision, risk assessment but also the active involvement of the civil society.

After the signing, Procopiou expressed hope that in the coming months “we will not be discussing violence in sports” but “only sports”.

She explained that offences in stadiums are not independent of society, but a social phenomenon.

“In the coming months due to the legislative regulation that is being promoted in parliament and all the other actions that have to do with prevention, we hope that we will have many new things to show in the next season,” she noted.

There has already been an increased police presence in stadiums due to a rise on sports violence incidents, the minister said, adding that police “have done the necessary planning”. “I hope we are ready to move ahead before the new season begins,” she said.

The parties to the memorandum of understanding are the justice minister, the education minister, the Chief of Police, the Cyprus Sports Organisation, the Cyprus Football Federation, the Cyprus Basketball Federation, the Stadium Licensing Authority, the Cyprus Youth Organisation, the Cyprus Football Players’ Association, and the Stadium Authorities.

The action plan will include the responsibilities of each body and a timetable for the implementation of the measures.

The first pillar on prevention provides for the implementation of actions including a campaign to raise awareness and foster a culture of respect for the fundamental principles of sport. Raising awareness efforts will also be focused on schoolchildren while there will be continuous training of all staff involved in the organisation of sporting events.

As for the second pillar on the upgrading of physical and passive security measures and the carrying out of improvement works to stadiums, the plan provides for actions related to the control and inspection of all stadiums and pitches. It calls for the completion of all improvement works based on the recommendations of the police, the installation of high-definition CCTV, the preparation of emergency plans and preventive measures and risk assessment.

Furthermore, the modernisation of legislation is provided under the third pillar with promotes legislative arrangements. These include the amendment of the Prevention and Suppression of Violence in Sports Venues Law of 2008 and the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Integrated Safety, Security, Protection and Service Approach at Football and other sports events.

The fourth and final pillar concerns the supervision, risk assessment and information to civil society. It provides for actions related to the establishment of a scientific council of academics, experts, and civil society personalities under the justice ministry. This is expected to encourage all stakeholders and organisations to develop and pursue a prevention policy and encourage all athletes, coaches, and representatives of participating teams to act in accordance with the basic principles of sport.

To implement the Action Plan, a Monitoring and Coordination Committee (MCC) will be set up and working groups will be established for each pillar of action with detailed implementation plans that include specific timetables. During the second phase, an expansion of the bodies involved is planned with the involvement of other bodies which will be invited to sign the Memorandum and adopt the Action Plan.

A dialogue will also be initiated in the coming weeks with associations of organised fans.

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