Security at sporting events isn’t a federal matter, says Sport Minister Ueli Maurer, who has told cantons and clubs to come up with concrete solutions to violence.
But while the former want to crack down and make life hard for trouble-makers, the latter are wary of implementing proposals such as combined “fan tickets” – which cover train fare and entrance to the stadium – and obligatory licences to hold matches.
Speaking in Bern at the tenth and final round table on violence in sport, Maurer said security was a cantonal matter and over the coming months and years priority would be given to decentralised actions.
Maurer welcomed the close collaboration between the various parties, but acknowledged that differences of opinion remained.
“I think the biggest challenge is getting the clubs, the leagues and the police to agree on the same strategy,” Claudius Schäfer, director of legal affairs at the Swiss Football League (SFL), told swissinfo.ch.
“Sometimes I have the feeling that this cooperation could be better, however this is not within the competence of the league.”
Maurer said the round table had highlighted countless guidelines. He mentioned model agreements between clubs and authorities, rules for the purchasing and consumption of alcohol in stadiums (currently legal in Switzerland) and methods of monitoring fans.
But the cantons, Swiss Railways and the Federal Police Office found the results of the round table unsatisfactory.
Solutions had yet to be found, for example, for the issue of herding fans to and from matches and identifying hooligans.
Marc Furrer, president of the Swiss Ice Hockey Association, criticised various suggestions made by the cantons, describing as “not practicable” the proposal that visiting fans at high-risk games be forced to travel in fan buses.
He said a Davos supporter who lived in Zurich couldn’t be forced to travel to Davos and then back to Zurich.
“On a political level it’s always a problem. Politicians see an incident then they come with general rules and say these rules should be valid from Davos to Geneva and Basel to Lugano,” he told swissinfo.ch.
“It doesn’t work like that. Some of these regulations they want to implement are just useless – they don’t bring anything and harm the sport and we are against these kinds of rules.”
He admitted, however, that in general dialogue with the cantons was “all right” and they had no problem with the police.
Thomas Grimm, president of the Swiss Football League, criticised the attempt to force football and ice hockey clubs to obtain a licence for matches in the top league.
This, he said, would require sports clubs to hammer out with the authorities basic conditions for every match.
Noncompliance would result in the cancellation of the match, which would then be forfeited. Grimm said this would make the normal running of a match impossible.
Roger Schneeberger, general-secretary of the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors, challenged this, pointing out that licence requirements were common abroad and that in any case organisers today already established conditions with the police.
Despite a raft of anti-hooligan measures, violence in and around Swiss football and hockey stadiums remains a persistent problem.
Whereas other European leagues appear to have nipped the problem in the bud a long time ago, there have been serious incidents at regular intervals in Switzerland, involving many of the top clubs. And this despite tougher measures introduced by the Swiss Football League in 2006. The 2009 season was plagued by a number of violent clashes.
A major sticking point is who pays for security. Cities and cantons are unhappy about having to shell out up to SFr250,000 ($320,000) in policing costs for a high-risk match.
Almost 30,000 police officers were on anti-hooligan duty at Switzerland’s top football and ice hockey games last season. Fan-control measures reportedly cost a record SFr27.5 million, plus SFr3 million for post-match damage to trains.
“In Germany for a normal Bundesliga match there are 1,000-1,500 police around the stadium,” Schäfer said.
“Here in Switzerland if it’s a high risk game there are between 150 and 200 and that’s sometimes not enough.”
Even Valais-born Fifa President Sepp Blatter said in 2009 that Switzerland had a hooligan problem and was “five to ten years” behind the rest of Europe in tackling it.
Schäfer denied this was still the case, “but of course we still have this problem with so-called fans who go to a football match not to watch the match but to cause trouble”.
Marc Furrer said in ice hockey this is “certainly not the case”.
“We had less violence last season than the season before. I think we’re on the right track and we also have much less violence than football,” he said.
“I’m not saying we don’t have a problem, but we’re aware of it and we’re tackling it.”
Swiss football hooliganism
Switzerland has been affected by football hooliganism since the start of the 1980s.
There have been serious incidents at regular intervals. Experts say football hooliganism now affects almost all teams in the top division and a series of less spectacular local incidents together add up. The problem has fragmented and clashes are difficult to predict and manage.
In June 2006 the Swiss Football League unveiled tougher measures against hooligans. Clubs are now more responsible for their fans when they play away games, meaning they have to organise the ticket sales for their sections of the away stadium themselves.
The guest club also has to take the personal details of their fans as well as provide somebody from the club to accompany the supporters and record violent incidents. An anti-violence campaign and mobile cameras, financed by the league, were also introduced.
These initiatives came on top of a raft of anti-hooligan measures approved by parliament in 2006 to crack down on violent fans ahead of the 2008 European Football Championship. They included a national hooligan database, travel restrictions for known troublemakers, stadium bans, obligation to attend police stations on match days and 24-hour preventive custody.
These modifications, which were urgently introduced into federal internal security law, became part of cantonal legislation from January 2010.
In June 2010 more anti-hooliganism moves were announced. An accord signed between cantonal governments or cities, the police and the football authorities specifies who is responsible for security in and around stadiums, stipulates the measures that have to be taken and in particular apportions the costs.
The plan includes restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages, the installation of surveillance cameras, the deployment of police observers and extending a hooligan database.
Clubs will have to draw up a concept to stop the use of fireworks and flares among spectators and prevent acts of violence and racism.