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Poor sports More football hooligans coming to Switzerland from abroad

Earlier this year, criminal charges were brought for the first time in Switzerland against a football fan for throwing flares and smoke bombs at a local match.

(Keystone)

Swiss police are seeing an increase in violent sports fans from abroad: 159 such fans residing outside Switzerland are currently listed on a national database, compared to 42 in 2013.  

"For some time now, we have been increasingly seeing the arrival of risk-takers from abroad. This is an international trend,” a spokeswoman from the Swiss Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) told the NZZ am Sonntag.

The German-language newspaper reported on Sunday that these football hooligans may even enter the country to attend matches that do not involve international teams, not because they are interested in sport, but because “they are looking for brawls with supporters of other clubs and the police”.

According to Fedpol, the trend appears to run in both directions, with more Swiss also travelling abroad to cause trouble at matches in other countries.

Efforts to limit such brawl tourism by Swiss police include keeping a database of hooligans who have a record of violent behaviour at sporting events both at home and abroad, and who have been banned from a stadium or temporarily held in police custody.

Such a database helps police impose entry bans on foreigners targeting Swiss sporting events, as well as exit restrictions on Swiss hooligans looking for trouble abroad. Often, risk information is obtained in cooperation with authorities in other countries. The Swiss government also hopes to approve a Council of Europe convention aimed at codifying measures already practiced in Switzerland, the NZZ am Sonntag reported.

In addition to the 159 violent fans from abroad, Switzerland’s hooligan database currently holds information on 1,450 Swiss residents. The vast majority are football fans, with a minority frequenting ice hockey events.

swissinfo.ch/cl

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