Sport Conventions

The European Convention on Spectator Violence

Death of Jo VANHECKE

It’s with a deep sadness that the entire Council of Europe’s Sport team informs you of the death of Jo Vanhecke, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the European Convention on Spectator Violence.

Jo was not only a great professional but above all a and friend for many of us. We would like to pay tribute to his motivation and dedication towards the Standing Committee, which will miss him greatly.

Below you will find the official message from his director general:
“With deep regret and sorrow, the Directorate General Security and Prevention regrets to announce the passing away of Jo Vanhecke, Director of the football Unit. Our deepest sympathy and condolences goes out to his wife and children. The Federal Public Service of Home Affairs as well as the entire community working on football security and prevention has lost a founder and one of its great pioneers and trailblazers. We will miss Jo Vanhecke dearly. Philip Willekens, Director General.”

Our thoughts today are with Jo’s family, in particular his wife and children.

The European Convention on Spectator Violence aims to prevent and to control spectator violence and misbehaviour as well as to ensure the safety of spectators at sports events. The Convention entered into force on 1 November 1985 and concerns all sports in general, but in particular football. It commits the 41 States parties to take practical measures to prevent and control violence. It also sets out measures for identifying and prosecuting offenders. Under the Convention, the Standing Committee was set up to follow the implementation of the Convention, to adopt recommendations and to reply to new difficulties.

The Convention’s contents concentrate on 3 main themes: prevention, co-operation and repression.

The text underlines the importance of deploying public order resources in stadia and along the transit routes used by spectators; separating rival groups of supporters; strictly controlling ticket sales; excluding trouble-makers from stadia and matches; prohibiting the introduction and restricting the sale of alcoholic drinks in stadia; conducting security checks, particularly for objects likely to be used for violence; clearly defining responsibilities between organisers and the public authorities; designing football stadia in such a way as to guarantee spectator safety; the development of social and educational measures to prevent violence and racism (develop fan embassies, improve club-supporter relations, promote fan coaching and stewards, etc.)

The Convention also highlights the importance of co-operation between the sports clubs and police authorities of all countries concerned during the organisation of major international sports events in order to identify the possible risks and be able to prevent them. Preparatory meetings for the European Championships and World Cup, as well as evaluation meetings, are organised within the framework of the Convention.

Legal co-operation should allow the identification of trouble-makers and their exclusion from stadiums and matches; the transfer of legal proceedings to the country of origin for sentencing, extradition or the transfer of those found guilty of violence

Reference documents

European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches (1985)
Download in pfd here

Information leaflet on the Convention on spectator violence

Recommendation Rec(2001)6 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the prevention of Racism, Xenophobia and Racial Intolerance in sport

Other reference documents on spectator violence

More information on…

The states’ compliance with the Convention

The international conference on Ultras, 17-18 February 2010, Vienna (Austria)

Thematic Files:

Sport, Violence and Racism in Europe
Sport for all

Compliance with commitments
A programme for monitoring compliance with commitments was launched in 1998, aimed at studying how member States are implementing the Convention. Consultative visits are organised to help various countries to implement the policies and programmes required for compliance with the stipulations of the text (Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Baltic States). Evaluation visits are also organised, leading to publication of evaluation reports (Spain, Portugal and Poland). Furthermore, each Party submits an annual report to the Standing Committee on the steps it is taking to implement the provisions of the Convention.

Other reference texts on violence in sport
The Standard Checklist

The states’ compliance with the Convention