Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-03-28-Speech-3-233"

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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his support for our reports, and would also like to stress the importance of this joint debate, since I believe that the future of football is fundamentally linked to stadium security. For this reason, placing the future of professional football together with security in stadiums is a practical way of developing a debate on the future of sport and football. The Commissioner is right to say that in recent years we have seen constantly recurring displays of violence in the stands, and these have transformed the very nature of the sport: the huge number of incidents of violence, displays of intolerance, and acts of xenophobia and racism are signs of a fundamental change in a sport that is one of the best loved and most supported by Europe’s people. Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases but the result of an overall transformation of football, which has now become big business, with clubs quoted on the stock exchange and an astronomical capital turnover. I believe that this factor has significantly contributed to the gradual transformation of sporting events. Football today is very popular and is at the same time a major event, leading telecommunications companies to invest in the acquisition of television rights. I endorse the proposal made by Mr Belet concerning the collective selling of TV rights, which seems to me to be a practical way of preventing the major teams ‘filling up’ on money at the expense of the small companies. There is another factor which is fundamental to football, represented not only by sporting prowess but above all by the presence of the public. It would be unthinkable to have football games without spectators: in some cases extreme measures have been taken which, in my view, have damaged the spectator nature of the sport. Since the presence of spectators in the stadiums is vital, we must insist that football games are always played in front of a crowd, and this means that appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure that the games are played in perfect calm, without displays of violence or racism. The recent tragic events at the Italian football championship premier league match between Catania and Palermo, which resulted in the death of a policeman, are in my opinion the most serious example of what can happen inside stadiums and of how a fringe group of violent fans often clashes not only with opposing fans but also with the forces of law and order. In recent times we have also witnessed deplorable events involving not only fans but also footballers: often the fights between the players themselves have been the very worst form of education and culture to be seen in European stadiums. Preventive action must therefore be taken to avoid the repetition of similar acts of violence in stadiums. Priority should be given to preventive action when football games are being played, as against repression and the militarisation of stadiums. The Council adopted this decision in 2002, establishing a national information point on football, which functions as a point of contact for the exchange of police information in relation to international football games. The results of this measure have been very positive, as can also be seen from experience in the stadiums and relations between police forces. In recent years the number of supporters going abroad to see games has constantly been on the increase and therefore the Council believes it is necessary for the bodies responsible to step up their cooperation. I think this is an important point: the agencies responsible for monitoring the presence of supporters in the stadiums and obtaining data on the nature of organised supporters groups are undoubtedly a useful tool but they must operate exclusively in accordance with national laws and in compliance with European directives and international agreements on the protection of personal data. We must make sure that the large amount of data collected is not used for investigations by the legal system or for other investigations not connected with football, and certainly not as a method of criminalising all fans. Care must thus be taken when the data is being obtained: I think that otherwise the national agencies might change from being tools for preventing acts of violence in stadiums into tools for social control, liable to act in an indiscriminate manner. I therefore endorse the proposal made by the Council to amend the decision we are discussing. We are anxious to ensure that this decision is implemented in full compliance with the law, to ensure that stadiums are not considered to be a territory outside the law, a sort of free zone. National and international laws must apply in stadiums too, precisely in order to ensure that acts of indiscriminate violence and displays of racism and xenophobia are not repeated."@en1

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