Sport Conventions

Explanatory memorandum on Recommendation (T-RV/97/1)

1. European Convention on spectator violence and misbehaviour at sports events and in particular at football matches (1985):

The States Signatories express their determination to control spectator violence and misbehaviour at sports events in the Convention's very first article:

"The Parties, with a view to preventing and controlling violence and misbehaviour by spectators at football matches, undertake, within the limits of their respective constitutional provisions, to take the necessary steps to give effect to the provisions of this convention".

In this connection, Article 3.1.b stipulates that:

"[The Parties undertake] facilitate close co-operation and exchange of appropriate information between the police forces of the different localities involved or likely to be involved".

This provision is supplemented by Article 4 of the Convention, which provides for international co-operation in this sphere.

On the basis of the principles of the Convention, a number of initiatives have already been taken by the Standing Committee.

2. Activities of the Standing Committee (T-RV):

In accordance with Article 9 of the Convention, the Standing Committee has made recommendations and proposals to the Parties on measures to be taken in order to implement the Convention.

In its 1988 Recommendation on police co-operation, the Standing Committee advocated the use of police "spotters" working in an advisory capacity to identify troublemakers or provide advice as to signs of trouble developing at major international sports events:

a. On the use of advisory police "spotters"

That, on the occasion of major international sports events where spectator violence is to be feared, the police authorities from the countries of the participating teams discuss the possibility of arranging for advisory plain-clothes policemen from the visiting country(ies) to assist the police force(s) responsible for the match(es) on potential problems from the visiting supporters (for example, help in identifying known troublemakers, advice on signs of trouble developing).

b. On preparations for major events

That the relevant police authorities consider organising before major international competitions training seminars for senior police officers on the organisation of crowd control measures (before, during and after matches).

In the area of international police co-operation and in accordance with Article 4 of the Convention, comprehensive guidelines were adopted by the Standing Committee in its 1991 Recommendation. These guidelines include numerous suggestions for co-operation in maintaining order at international football matches.

Two topics focused more specifically on the exchange of information:

1. The role of visiting police in the host country

It is suggested that the foreign police authority may be able to supply the host police with three types of information, while bearing in mind that this information is subject to any international and national provisions with regard to the right of privacy and data protection:

i. traffic information on numbers of spectators, dates, routes, means of travel and arrangements for accommodation;

ii. intelligence identifying known troublemakers who may travel to the football event, their methods of operation, and known or suspected intentions;

iii. tactical intelligence identifying known troublemakers who have travelled to the event and - of even greater importance - actual intentions to engage in violence and disorder at particular times and places, and predictions from the mood of a group that violence is about to take place.

2. Traffic management

It is suggested that, shortly before an event, each source country send a traffic telex advising the police in their own country, carriers and transit and host countries of the known travel plans of visiting supporters.

As well as listing individual groups, tour operators, routes, accommodation and dates, it is helpful to summarise this information at the start of the traffic telex to show the total number of supporters involved and sub-totals broken down by main travel route (air, sea ferry, coach, car etc). Where possible the summary and individual details should be categorised as follows:

A - No trouble expected;

B - Slight possibility of trouble;

C - Warning: possible risk of trouble.

Police co-operation and information exchange also form part of the security measures set out in two more recent Recommendations adopted by the Standing Committee (Recommendations Nos 1/93 and 1/94):

"Facilitating the work of accompanying police forces (escorts) through exchange of information on supporters' movements."

The more specific initiatives of the Council of the European Union in the sphere of information exchange, inter alia by adopting standard forms for the uniform presentation of police intelligence reports, are appreciable and may be considered as complementing the efforts of the Council of Europe.

However, it must be remembered that the Recommendation of the Council of the European Union is limited to the fifteen members of the Union and not easily applicable, therefore, to those States Parties to the Convention which are not EU members.

It would be sensible to avoid adopting two different texts in this sphere.

In this respect, the adoption of the standard forms set out in Appendix 1 to the present Recommendation could facilitate the exchange of information advocated in the Convention and the Standing Committee's recommendations.

These forms have been slightly modified further to the suggestions made, by the Project Group on data protection, within the context of the Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data (ETS N 108).