EUROPEAN FOOTBALL STADIUM BAN FOR HOOLIGANS… Ahmed Aboutaleb major of the City of Rotterdam rejoices today the European Parliament initiative for an European level implementation of banning locally convicted football hooligans from all EU stadiums. (1) This law initiative has been long in the making. An earlier document by the Council of the European Union “Resolution of the Council on preventing and restraining football hooliganism through the exchange of experience, exclusion from stadiums and media policy” dates back to the year 1997:
The responsible Ministers invite their national sports associations to examine, in accordance with national law, how stadium exclusions imposed under civil law could also apply to football matches in a European context.
However much I dislike football hooligans this is a juridical precedent which will have far reaching negative consequences for civil rights in general. Not only does it create yet another centrally managed person database that can be accessed by all EU police forces (like data on persons DNA, illegal migrants and so on) it is a further step in constructing a ‘central EU police force’ with all its inherent dangers. Such an EU-wide anti-hooligan law also means multiplied condemnation – for a big part of the European continent – on the basis of a local conviction.
Together with actual proposals (in the Netherlands) for ‘whole sale mass arrests’, not only hooligan “leaders”, but also of their “followers” (‘meeloophooligens’ is the Dutch term), we can be certain that such an extra-national banning and black-listing power, will be abused in ways beyond our imagination. Once such a law and its enforcement has been put into effect, other ‘social distinct groups’ whose behaviour is classified as unruly can get the same routine treatment in the future. The Council of Europe document of 1997 cited above speaks of “preventing and containing of disorder”, so one need not to be surprised when other forms of “disorder” will be handled in the long run in the same way. For instance, when we take in account the frequent attempts by politicians – defending employers interest – to criminalise strike actions, trade union activists could be databased and blacklisted with the same ‘anti-hooligan routine’.
(1) It is interesting to note that the ‘hooligan-ban’ proposals in the European Parliament plenary session of February 2. 2012, was part of a bundle of all kind of measures related to sport listed in this order: – Promote sport for girls; – Blacklist hooligans; – Make doping a criminal offence; – Regulate sport agents; -Combine learning and training. The resolution – thus packaged – has been passed with 550 votes in favour, 73 against and 7 abstentions. In the section of hooligans is also this sentence: “MEPs also call on Member States and sports governing bodies to commit to tackling homophobia and racism against athletes.” Something problematic in the sense of ‘civil rights’ has been hidden inside a package of mostly emancipatory proposals.