At the latest UEFA-EU Stadium and Security Conference, UEFA has underlined its commitment to ensuring that football matches across Europe are played in a safe, secure and welcoming environment.
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UEFA has emphasised its determination to take a leading role in the campaign to guarantee safety and security for fans at football matches throughout Europe.
The latest UEFA-European Union Stadium and Security Conference in Munich brought together some 350 representatives of UEFA, the EU, national football associations, football clubs, police forces and other stakeholders for discussions and exchanges on the broad range of security-related issues surrounding the game.
Topics on the agenda included how to counter the continuing problem of violence in and around stadiums, the threat of potential terrorist attacks at football matches, the dangers posed by, among others, pyrotechnics and drones, ensuring accessibility to football matches for all, and potential liabilities and risks for the organisers of football events.
The conference takes place at the start of each new club competition season, and the aim of the Munich gathering was to help participants keep pace with latest developments in stadium safety and security; share experiences from the previous season; and promote an integrated pan-European approach to security, involving governments, municipal authorities, police, security forces, football authorities, supporters and local communities.
In a message to the conference, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin underlined the European body’s commitment to ridding football of various negative factors that create potential risks at matches, and which affect spectators’ enjoyment of the match experience.
“Supporters are the lifeblood of football,” he said. “Without them, the game would lose its atmosphere, its passion and its meaning.”
“We believe,” the UEFA President continued, “that spectators have the right to expect football events to take place in a safe, secure, comfortable and welcoming environment – and that they should be able to feel excitement, rather than any kind of fear or concern.”
Mr Čeferin stressed that considerable work had been done to reduce spectator violence. “However, we are still confronted with unsavoury incidents which occur inside and outside stadiums across the continent,” he added.
“There is also, of course, the threat of terrorist attacks at venues. This has now become a very real and serious threat that we must never neglect.”
The UEFA President described the UEFA-EU security conference as “a unique forum in which all those working in the field of stadiums and security can meet to discuss, exchange ideas, make proposals and set the course for ongoing work in the future.”
The chairman of the UEFA Stadium and Security Committee, Michael van Praag, welcomed the funding provided by UEFA to implement its safety and security strategy over the coming years.
“The strategy has at its core the delivery of integrated and balanced safety, security and service for the vast majority of fans,” he said, “while, at the same time, seeking to exclude the small minority of troublemakers.”
Mr van Praag underlined that the strategy will maximise support for UEFA’s member associations in their national safety and security work, as well as continuing the long-standing close co-operation between UEFA, the EU and Council of Europe.
Adrian Dincă, vice-chairman of the standing committee of the European Convention on Safety, Security and Service at the Council of Europe, said it was essential to guard against complacency in the campaign to ensure that football matches took place in a safe and welcoming environment.
“Regardless of better governance, the improvement of infrastructures and new security technologies, every week we have incidents where people are injured in every part of the world,” he told the conference. “That is why the safety and security topic must be continually discussed and refined.”
“This is one of the areas where we can never think that our job is finished,” he added.