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Explanatory memorandum on Recommendation on Article 4 of the Convention: international co-operation (91/2)

Guidelines for co-operation in the policing of international football matches, implementing Article 4 of the Convention

1. The Standing Committee has approved the attached guidelines on international police co-operation. The detailed arrangements for international police co-operation in individual cases is primarily for bi-lateral negotiation between the parties concerned. These guidelines are intended to assist that process by offering suggestions based on proven good practice, but are not intended to constrain. It should be noted that the guidelines describe the scope of international co-operation, the procedures by which it may be realised, and the problems which may arise. As identified in paragraph 4 of the document, the guidelines are consistent with the framework of the Convention, and in particular Article 4.

2. Article 4 of the Convention obliges parties as follows:

"4.1 The parties shall co-operate closely on the matters covered by the Convention and encourage similar co-operation as appropriate between national sports authorities involved.

4.2 In advance of their international club and representative matches or tournaments, the parties concerned shall invite their competent authorities, especially the sports organisations, to identify those matches at which violence or misbehaviour by spectators is to be feared. Where such a match is identified, the competent authorities of the host country shall arrange consultations between those concerned.

Such consultations shall take place as soon as possible and should not be later than two weeks before the match is due to take place, and shall encompass arrangements, measures and precautions to be taken before, during and after the match, including, where necessary, measures additional to those included in this Convention."

3. The guidelines have been derived from experience in international police co-operation during the European Championships in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the Summer of 1988; and from consideration by Working Group II of TREVI (the European Community group of law enforcement ministers and officials) - especially a conference organised by the Federal Republic in Münster, in March 1989.

Guidelines for co-operation in the policing of international football matches

1. These guidelines have been prepared by drawing on the practical lessons of international police co-operation during the European Football Championships in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1988. The guidelines do not prescribe in detail how individual states should liaise on police matters. Instead they suggest a framework based on proven good practice, and recommend that states negotiate detailed arrangements acceptable to each other and appropriate to the match or championship in question. Prime responsibility for organising this rests with the host country where the event is to take place. The larger the event the more there is a need for plans to be made early and in detail.

return to appendix B

2. The objectives of policing an international football event may be stated as:

a. to promote good behaviour and peaceful enjoyment of good sporting competition;

b. to take account of the various cultures and traditions of visiting supporters, consistent with acceptable behaviour in the host and transit countries;

c. to deal firmly, fairly and effectively with troublemakers;

d. to make efficient use of police resources.

return to appendix B

3. These guidelines cover the following topics:

a. Assessing scale and importance (paragraphs 5 to 7);

b. Initial police liaison (paragraphs 8 to 10);

c. Pre-event conference (paragraph 11);

d. The role of visiting police in the host country (paragraphs 12 to 19);

e. Traffic management (paragraphs 20 to 22);

f. Finance (paragraph 23);

g. Football authorities (paragraph 24);

h. Media and publicity (paragraphs 25 to 27); and

i. Feedback and de-brief (paragraphs 28 to 30).

Appendix A presents a possible timetable for policing a major event; and Appendix B contains a summary of definitions and terms used.

return to appendix B

4. The guidelines provide suggestions for implementing Article 4, and they may also prove useful in implementing Articles 2, 3.1a and b, and 5 of the European Convention on Spectator Violence. These guidelines are consistent with those articles.

Assessing scale and importance
return to paragraph 3

5. The first action should be for the host state to assess the scale of the event and of the policing operation likely to be required: for example by reference to the number and geographical spread of matches, foreign countries, visiting spectators and the risk of violence or disorder. A questionnaire to contributing states may be helpful. This assessment should identify the extent to which major international co-ordination of police effort will be required - and therefore the extent to which these guidelines may be invoked. The assessment should be complete early to enable all relevant agencies to make appropriate arrangements. Where many contributing states are involved the host state should identify those where the greatest degree of liaison will be needed and concentrate attention accordingly.

6. There are many factors which may complicate the policing of international in comparison to domestic matches.

a. The territory to be managed by the police is more extensive, both in area and time: visiting spectators will travel longer distances, gather earlier and disperse later - perhaps much earlier and later.

b. Delays in handling information are increased: lines of communication are extended, more reference information has to be supplied by telephone or facsimile and not in person, and translation of documents (particularly large and/or urgent texts) can be difficult.

c. The host police are unfamiliar with the behaviour of visiting fans - and vice versa.

d. As the choice of participants in later rounds of a championship depends on the results of earlier matches, planned ticket allocation and spectator separation may be badly disrupted - many tickets bought before teams qualified are re-sold on the streets by defeated supporters, without regulation.

e. Potential troublemakers may feel less inhibited, less responsible and more anonymous when holidaying in a foreign country, and may suffer from an exaggerated sense of national pride.

7. The remainder of these guidelines assumes that the initial assessment has shown the event to be of major significance, requiring extensive police co-operation. As a very general guide, a single match could be considered as 'major' if more than 1,000 visiting foreign supporters were expected or there were good indications of serious trouble; a championship involving several such matches would be of still greater significance. Clearly for lesser events these arrangements would be scaled down accordingly.

return to appendix B

Initial police liaison
return to paragraph 3

8. For the largest tournaments, early and detailed police liaison is required. Each state should designate a central national office for the overall co-ordination of that country's effort on the championship, with particular reference to advance planning. That office may be the national permanent correspondent on football in person, or some other representative (in which case the permanent correspondent should be copied all communications). The choice should be of someone who is directly assigned to the operational policing of the event, able to give immediate attention to servicing requests, and able to act as a central reference point within the country for the collation and distribution as necessary of information to all police units involved.

return to appendix B

9. It may well be useful for a small delegation of officers from a participating country to visit the host country well in advance of the championship and for a return trip to be made by the host to the (or each) participating country. Delegations though small should include command and operational level officers - both can be relevant. Outline travel, accommodation and ticketing arrangements for spectators should also be considered at this stage with the relevant national football authorities.

return to appendix B

10. The objective of the initial police liaison should be to familiarise each side with the practical detail of how the other country polices football matches: the police tactics and the behaviour (and misbehaviour) of supporters; to specify and plan as clearly as possible what each country can contribute and how officers from different countries will work together (see paragraphs 12 to 19); to identify and resolve potential difficulties; and to begin the flow of operational information and intelligence as soon as is relevant. The earlier this is completed the better, to allow maximum benefit to be obtained and to allow police operations to be influenced at the earliest stage of planning. For the largest events, this stage can be begun twelve months in advance and it is desirable to have achieved good progress six months before the event.

return to appendix B

Pre-event conference (see Recommendation N° 1/88)
return to paragraph 3

11. The host country should consider organising a conference for all participating police forces, perhaps or three months before a major international football championship. The objective is to familiarise all participants with each other's plans and intentions, establish contact with opposite numbers, and identify remaining difficulties while there is still time to resolve them. The host should invite relevant people from his country (for example his national football authority and the organiser of the championship) and should distribute appropriate reference information at the conference.

return to appendix B

The role of visiting police in the host country (see Recommendation N° 1/88)
return to paragraph 3

12. Responsibility for police action and the maintenance of public order in the host country must at all times remain with the host authorities only. Nevertheless, it is crucial that relevant information and intelligence is made available by visiting police officers to the host police quickly enough and at a sufficiently senior level. Such information can only be volunteered as advice, and it is for the host police to decide what action to take as a result.

13. Foreign police may be able to supply the host police with three types of information. For maximum effect all are necessary but are subject to any provisions of international and national privacy and data protection legislation:

a. traffic information on numbers of spectators, dates, routes, means of travel and arrangements for accommodation (see paragraphs 20 to 22);

b. intelligence identifying known troublemakers who may travel to the football event, their methods of operation, and known or suspected intentions (paragraphs 15 and 16);

c. 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 (see paragraph 17).

return to appendix B

14. It is particularly important that the command structure in the host country makes effective use of foreign liaison officers. It is often good practice to establish a local co-ordinating office for an operation such as the policing of a key international football match, whether that office has direct operational command of all police officers involved, or simply acts as an information exchange for relevant police commanders. Otherwise there is no collective police understanding of what is occurring, and individual police units may take contradictory action. In a major championship several such local co-ordinating officers may exist, one for each centre at which matches are taking place. These would be in addition to the central national office referred to in paragraph 8.

return to appendix B

15. Assuming some such co-ordinating office exists, there will be a key liaison role for a visiting police officer deployed there. He will be able to communicate effectively in three directions: to provide advice as required to the centre of the host police operations dealing with supporters from his country; to communicate with other liaison officers from his country who are working in the area; and to refer back to his own country for reference information (or even local police enquiries).

return to appendix B

16. This therefore implies that support arrangements are made at home by participating countries to service requests for information or other action from their key liaison officer in the host country. It is important that such support includes undertaking local enquiries without the detailed involvement of the liaison officer, and that cover should be available 24 hours per day in case it is needed urgently.

return to appendix B

17. Liaison officers in the host country may also be useful in observing at first hand the behaviour of supporters from their country. Even observing groups at a distance a liaison officer may be more able than the local police to judge when trouble is likely or imminent: for example when the mood turns from enjoyment to hostility or when tactics indicate preparations are being made for a fight (for example, by established behaviour in watching for opposing supporters or collecting objects for use as weapons). If suitably trained officers are available, close observation by plain clothes liaison officers among groups of supporters may reveal precise intentions for the time and place of planned disorder.

return to appendix B

18. Another possible role for liaison officers, if so desired by the host police, is in dealing publicly with supporters, for example to appeal for sensible behaviour and to show that the local police in the host country are well prepared. This could include speaking over the public address system at stadia or speaking to supporters in the street. The officer may also advise the host police on tactics at stadia, with reference to the behaviour of supporters from his country.

return to appendix B

19. n all these roles it is essential that liaison officers are true experts: familiar with the behaviour of their supporters, and skilled in the police activity they will perform (such as concealed observation). If effective use is to be made of their potential, clear agreement must be made in advance on how they will operate and on the facilities at their disposal including communications (telephone, facsimile and local radio), interpreters, transport and accommodation.

Traffic management
return to paragraph 3

20. It is helpful if shortly before an event each source country sends a traffic telex advising the police in their own country, carriers and transit and host countries of the known travel plans of visiting supporters. This can only be achieved in detail if, well in advance, the unit which prepares this telex establishes effective contact with the football authorities and others responsible for arranging travel. The telex forms a common reference document from which all concerned can plan advance action or consult for information on a particular group that may become involved in trouble during their journey. The normal point of receipt in European Community countries should be the TREVI permanent correspondent on football and, if different, the central national office described in paragraph 8.

return to appendix B

21. 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. Some slight possibility of trouble. Advise supervision and limitations on sale of alcohol by carriers.

c. Warning: possible risk of trouble. Advise close supervision and prohibition on sale of alcohol by carriers.

It is probably unrealistic to hope for more specific information on category c passengers. If clear intentions to cause serious problems were known, the advice would anyway be to refuse carriage. Moreover, those few who may intend serious trouble at an event may travel peaceably and may be careful to disguise their intentions and identity. The more effective response to such persons is likely to be in good police liaison and intelligence, with officers well informed about known troublemakers.

return to appendix B

22. Advance co-ordination of travel plans can also help to reduce the policing task in supervising travel to the event. Experience has shown the considerable advantage of asking coaches and cars travelling to major events to carry a distinctive emblem on their windscreens. This enables the police to recognise supporters among the large number of other road users. Similarly, asking supporters to keep to agreed routes and overnight stops (if those are necessary) can make police supervision easier. Again, true 'hard-core' troublemakers can be expected to avoid such advised routes - the measure is more to improve the management of orderly supporters or those with more limited potential for trouble.

return to paragraph 3

23. Since policing a major international football event may involve liaison work within and between countries on an exceptional basis, it is wise for each state to ensure early in the planning phase that the number of police officers to be deployed on liaison work is specified and a firm understanding is reached on precisely which country and agency (for example, national or local police agency, football authority, national or local government) will meet the salary, travel and accommodation expenses of each officer, It is proposed as a general rule, for prior agreement on each occasion, that the host country should pay for accommodation and other facilities made available locally and that visiting countries should pay for travel and salaries of the officers involved.

return to appendix B

Football authorities
return to paragraph 3

24. From an early stage the central police point in each state should establish close contact with the representative of his country's football authority for the event and/or with appropriate local clubs, so that each is properly aware of the other's plans, and of the parallel negotiations that are taking place between police and football agencies (see also paragraph 9). In the host country those responsible for licensing grounds or approving safety arrangements should similarly be involved. An important issue is how to achieve proper separation of supporters towards the end of a championship given that there may be extensive and unregulated re-selling of tickets on the streets, but this is principally for the football authorities and host police.

return to appendix B

return to paragraph 3

25. Experience has shown that major international football events generate considerable press and TV interest. There is a history of sensational reporting, sometimes greatly exaggerating actual problems at the event. European football hooliganism - real or imagined - makes popular reading and viewing. The presence of the media can potentially influence the violence and disorder being observed for example if rowdy supporters cause disorder to show off to TV cameras or press photographers. Foreign liaison officers in the host country may be distracted from their operational police tasks by the close attention of their country's media, who may for example follow the officers, ask repeatedly for statements or interviews, or publish in newspapers photographs which identify plain clothes officers - such newspapers may then go on sale in the host country and be bought by visiting supporters.

return to appendix B

26. Careful consideration is therefore important if heavy media interest is likely in a match or championship. Relations with the media is a specialist function. After listening to the views of contributing countries, the host country should make a conscious decision on how the media are to be handled and what assistance is to be sought from contributing countries. For example, there should be an agreed response to request for interviews with visiting officers, and the host country should decide how it would respond to untrue or distorted reporting. Host countries should be cautious about referring publicly to any concealed involvement of foreign police officers: while helping to demonstrate that the host police are well prepared, it may also direct unhelpful media attention onto the activities of these officers while the event is taking place.

return to paragraph 3

27. Positive use can be made of various forms of publicity, in advance, directed to visiting supporters. Given suitable co-ordination this can start within contributing countries. An example could be a short guidebook handed to supporters on departure containing useful information about the locations of matches; a few helpful phrases in the foreign language; a welcome from the hosts; and an encouragement to good behaviour with the warning that the host police are well prepared to deal with trouble and that information about troublemakers will be sent to their home countries (see also paragraphs 28 and 29). Newspapers could be offered stories emphasising that there was effective pre-planning of police tactics. Feedback: information from the host to contributing countries

28. It is of great importance that having received information and assistance from contributing countries, the host country reports back information about visiting spectators who are involved in trouble. Clear agreement should be reached on this before the event takes place. Feedback is not only of assistance to contributing countries but may be valuable to other host countries in the future. That may be through information (for example, that individual 'X' has caused trouble at home and when he last went to an international championship) or action that can be taken (for example, to refuse to sell special travel or match tickets to him, or even to restrict through the courts his foreign travel). Accurate identification of detained, arrested or convicted visitors is therefore essential.

return to appendix B

29. Feedback is not only valuable after the event. Publicity before an event that information about troublemakers will be sent to the person's home country can encourage more responsible behaviour by visiting supporters. Without this supporters may feel that even if caught causing trouble in the host country, the consequences will be slight because any conviction will not be known by the authorities at home.

return to appendix B

return to paragraph 3

30. Within a reasonable period of a major football event involving the use of these arrangements, the host state should consider whether there are lessons to be learned and whether recommendations should be made on how guidelines such as these, or any other standing arrangements, ought to be revised. If appropriate the host state may arrange for a de-briefing meeting and for recommendations to be prepared, within three months of the end of the event. It is in any case helpful for the host state to circulate contributing states with a short report assessing how well any joint policing worked in practice, within that period.

return to appendix B

Appendix A

Possible timetable for co-operation in the policing of a major international football championship

Months before championship



12 - 9

5 - 7

Assess scale

12 - 6

8 - 10

Initial police liaison

9 - 0


Continue preparations, collect and forward information


25 - 29

and intelligence, agree plans for media, publicity and feedback

3 - 2


Pre-event conference

1 - 0

12 - 19

Visiting liaison officers begin duty in host country


12 - 19



Months after championship



0 - 6

28, 29


2 - 3


De-brief conference

Appendix B

Summary of definitions and terms used



TREVI, and Permanent Correspondent

1, 7, 18

Objective of policing an international football event


European Convention on spectator violence


Central national office


Objective of initial police liaison


Pre-event conference


Types of information and intelligence


Local co-ordinating office


Key liaison role for visiting police officer


Support arrangements at home


Observing supporters


Dealing publicly with supporters


Use of police uniform by visiting police officers


Traffic telex


Categories of supporter (A,B,C)




Football authorities and ticketing

9, 11, 24

Media and publicity