Transport plan aims to curb hooligan problems
Swiss hockey and football team supporters could be forced to take special buses and trains to get to matches if parliament approves a cabinet proposal, with clubs who do not cooperate forced to pay for any damage caused by their fans.
The government announced on Wednesday it would push forward with the measure despite opposition from some teams and fan clubs.
Currently, transport companies try to organize special trains or bus services for sports fans travelling to games. However, not all fans make use of this alternate means of transport and travel on regular services.
Some of these supporters are unruly, cause damage to trains and buses and disturb other passengers. So far, companies cannot force them to use the special services as they must transport all customers.
Under the government’s proposed legislative change, companies would have the right to restrict the use of regular services or to prohibit fans from getting on board those trains and buses. But they would have to provide alternatives for supporters at a reasonable price.
The project could make clubs responsible for the damage caused by their fans if they cannot be identified. The Swiss Federal Railways says for example that it spends CHF3 million ($3.35 million) per year on extra security, repairs and cleaning related to unruly fans, while other transport companies are occasionally affected by anti-social supporter behavior.
To avoid having to pay, clubs would have to sign agreements with transport companies for away games and would have to ensure their fans behave. Teams that refuse to enter any type of contract could be held liable for any physical violence or damage involving their supporters.
The government proposal was open to consultation for the past year. Fan clubs and the Swiss Football Association said that it would be difficult to distinguish between a club supporter and a normal traveller. They also complained that the measure did not take into account efforts made by clubs to improve the situation.
The cabinet said though that it is convinced this is the best way to move forward in dealing with transport problems, in particular when combined with the recent so-called intercantonal hooligan agreement.
In the cantons where the agreement is applied so far, football and hockey matches require an authorisation.
A record number of people are already under restraining orders for committing violence at sporting events, according to figures released by the Federal Police Office last month.
There are a record 1,368 so-called hooligans in a national database set up six years ago. Those listed have been placed under various bans to keep them from re-offending at sporting events.
Most of those registered were football supporters, while the others attended ice hockey matches in Switzerland and abroad. One in two perpetrators were between 19 and 24 years of age.
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