Basel given stiff penalties for football violence

Fans invaded the pitch after the championship decider Keystone

FC Basel are to receive a two-match ban and a SFr80,000 ($65,000) fine as a punishment for hooliganism by their fans.

This content was published on June 8, 2006 - 19:00

The decision by the Swiss Football League (SFL) comes after hundreds of the team's supporters went on the rampage in Basel following the title decider with Zurich in May.

In a statement released on Thursday, the SFL said that Basel would have to play their first two home games of next season behind closed doors.

For the next three matches, a partial ban would be enforced, with sector D in the club's St Jakob Park stadium - the bastion of home fans - remaining empty.

FC Basel also receive a fine, as do FC Zurich, who have to pay SFr30,000. The two clubs have five days to appeal.

Odilo Bürgy, president of the SFL's disciplinary committee, told swissinfo that this was the heaviest punishment of its kind ever handed down by the country's football authorities.

"It will hit Basel very hard financially to have to play two matches behind closed doors," he said. "For me the message is very clear: this kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated and we want the fans to know that this must not happen again."

The SFL said that the punishment had to be stronger for those who caused the violence, which was why sector D was targeted.

But it added that the visiting fans were not without fault, which justified the fine for Zurich.

Reacting to the news, Basel club president Gigi Oeri said the punishment was hard and that the financial consequences for Basel could be between SFr3-4 million. But despite this, Basel has decided not to appeal, she said.

Zurich's head of sport Fredy Bickel said that the club was considering taking possible legal measures.

Shocking scenes

The dramatic finale to the football season on May 13, which saw FC Zurich snatch the title from FC Basel with a goal in the 93rd minute, was immediately followed by some of the most shocking scenes ever witnessed at a sporting event in Switzerland.

Inside the stadium police had to form a cordon to protect Zurich supporters, as members of the crowd supporting the home side poured onto the pitch attacking Zurich players and staff.

There was chaos outside the ground as hundreds of Basel fans attacked police who responded with tear gas and water cannon.

Police said more than 100 people were injured and 15 people were taken to hospital. They added that 300-500 supporters were responsible for the violence and 25 had been arrested.

The Swiss Police Federation later issued a statement strongly criticising Basel for failing to control fans. Damage inside the stadium was estimated at SFr500,000.

For its part, FC Basel said they assumed "moral responsibility" for what had happened and apologised for the conduct of its fans.

Sport Minister Samuel Schmid also condemned the post-match riots.

The violence and clashes with police in Basel has also started a debate in Switzerland as to whether the country can contain hooligans when it co-hosts the 2008 European championships. The opening match in Euro 2008 will be played in Basel.

swissinfo

In brief

Basel's hooligans have a bad reputation. Two years ago they trashed Thun's stadium, causing tens of thousands of francs of damage.

In July last year FC Basel were fined SFr50,000 by the Swiss Football League following incidents at an away match against Grasshoppers Zurich that saw damage estimated at SFr100,000 to the Hardturm stadium.

Basel were also fined on several occasions during the 2004/05 season following incidents both at home and away.

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