Judge on site: Police want quick proceedings in EM riots

Judge on site
Police want quick proceedings in EM riots

The police are also expecting unwanted visitors at the European Football Championship in the summer. In the event of riots, the police union calls for judges and prosecutors to be deployed on site to ensure rapid prosecution. The officials would also like to see an expanded range of instruments against fan violence.

In order to be able to take effective action against violent fans, the police union (GdP) advocates deputing judges and prosecutors to handle cases on site at the European Football Championship. This would make it possible to respond “immediately and effectively to possible excesses of violence,” said the GdP federal chairman, Jochen Kopelke.

In his opinion, accelerated criminal proceedings could also be helpful for violent perpetrators from the fan scene. He said: “This has a deterrent effect in terms of the risk of repetition, but also for imitators.” At the same time, Kopelke emphasized that it was not millions of enthusiastic football fans who were responsible for the clashes in the stadiums and around the games, but rather notorious violent criminals and violent fan groups. The European Football Championship in Germany starts on June 14th.

In order to ensure greater security in the stadiums beyond the major tournaments, Kopelke believes it would be good to create a legal basis for the use of facial recognition software in the stadiums and the introduction of personalized tickets for high-risk games. It is also important to adapt bus and train transport capacities so that fans can travel to and from the venue safely.

In a statement for the Bundestag’s sports committee, Kopelke also expressed his concern that so-called ultra-groups were acting “increasingly violent and politicized.” Not only has the number of criminal proceedings initiated in connection with football games increased recently, but also the number of hours worked by federal and state police forces in this context.

In the 2022/2023 season, more than 2.4 million working hours were spent securing football games. In the 2018/2019 season, which is used as a comparison value in 2020 and 2021 due to the Corona restrictions, the police spent around 2.2 million working hours on this task.

Fans and fan researchers are very critical

The relationship between police and fans is tense. “The situation is deadlocked, a solution in a kind of fan-police dialogue is unfortunately unrealistic,” said fan representative Dario Minden from the “Our Curve” alliance in November 2023 after several escalations between police and fans: “ On the fan side there are no representative structures and certainly often no interest in dialogue at all, while on the other side there is a police force that often acts unlawfully.” The use of pepper spray in particular is once again in focus: UEFA and FIFA ban it in their stadium competitions, but it is tolerated in Germany.

At the end of last year, fan researcher Gunter Pilz also doubted the usefulness of a massive police presence. “More police does not ensure more security. On the contrary: more police also provoke more violence,” the 78-year-old sports sociologist told the “Braunschweiger Zeitung”. The conflict between police and fans is not a new phenomenon. Both sides accuse each other of being responsible for the escalation. According to Jonas Gabler, a Pilz fan researcher, the conflict has escalated in recent years. “It hasn’t gotten better, in fact it’s gotten worse.”

The massive appearance of the police would leave fans with the feeling that the police were not taking a differentiated approach, said Gabler. Fan representative Minden goes in a similar direction: “Yes, there is a problem with violence at football games. A complex problem for which, unfortunately, there are no simple solutions. Unfortunately, as an active football fan you often get the feeling that “The police are not acting as part of the solution, but as part of the problem.”

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