Basel football fans will be the first in Switzerland to carry a special security ID pass as part of a crackdown on hooliganism by the club.This content was published on February 7, 2002 - 16:55
Only fans carrying the new card will have access to seats reserved for FC Basel supporters at away games. Supporters travelling to matches will also be escorted by club stewards, private security guards and specialist anti-hooligan police.
The introduction of the card scheme - already common at hooligan-plagued British clubs - follows concerns over violent fans. This season alone they have cost the club more than SFr80,000 ($47,000) in fines from the Swiss Football Association for damaging the game's reputation.
René Jäggi, the president of FC Basel, said the "chaotic" behaviour of a hard core of between 100 and 200 hooligans had forced him to act.
Jäggi said the club's "zero tolerance" policy was triggered by fears that the violence would continue to grow if left unchecked. "Sometimes you can only fight fire with fire," he said.
The new security pass - restricted to those with an unblemished record over the last two years - will include a photograph of the fan, and be subject to police veto. The card system will apply for all away matches.
According to the club, the card system has been successful in the UK, where damage caused by hooligans has dropped following its introduction.
Werner Schneeberger, club chief executive officer, declined to say how much the anti-hooligan measures were costing the club, but he said it was a price worth paying.
"If we solve our problems it will be much cheaper than paying 80,000 francs to the Swiss Football Association," he said.
Basel's hooligans brought the club unwelcome notoriety last month when German police were forced to arrest over 40 people and escort bus-loads of supporters back to the Swiss border after a game against FC Kaiserslautern was marred by violence.
A recent poster campaign aimed at tackling hooliganism, under the banner "Enthusiastic fans don't need violence", had not had the desired effect, said the club.
A number of fans have already criticised the new pass system on the club's website, complaining that well-behaved supporters were being punished for the actions of a few.
Opponents of the scheme also point out that the pass is likely to have little effect on the behaviour of hooligans outside the stadium.
swissinfo and agencies
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