The Czech football league resumed after the winter break on Sunday. But the story that made the evening headlines was not who won but fan violence at a game between Brno and Ostrava. The weekend’s matches were the first under new rules stipulating that the clubs themselves - and not the country’s police force – are responsible for security. But hooligans at the game in Brno proved too much to handle for privately hired security guards and, as in the past, police in riot gear were called in.
It was the first weekend of the spring season, with Sunday’s fixtures a litmus test for how ready Czech clubs are to handle security themselves. But what happened at a game between Brno and Ostrava in the Moravian capital suggests there could be shortcomings in the new approach. Even before the game’s first whistle, dozens of rowdy Ostrava fans broke through their sector and overran private security to clash with their Brno opponents. Some smashed property and broke open a barrier between them and the pitch, letting off fire extinguishers. As the violence continued, the police were called in.
The result: five arrests. Ten people, meanwhile, were injured in the violence.
Under the new rules, clubs are required to ask the police to step in when situations do get out of hand. But they also run the risk of having to pay - if it is proven afterwards they made mistakes or did too little regarding security. Stanislav Hrabě writes for the Czech daily Sport:
“If the police are called in because there is no alternative it’s not a problem. But the clubs do run a risk. If it is proven they did not do enough regarding security, they can get stuck with the bill.”
The circumstances in Sunday’s match have not yet been determined but some, like Interior Minister Ivan Langer, have already suggested that more could probably have been done. He spoke to Czech TV:
“Some were too lax or underestimated the situation and that is why some will now have to pay the bill. The next time it happens they risk having their stadium closed.”
Already it is clear that clubs will have to do more - far more - to clamp
down on hooliganism, and that will mean setting aside substantial funds:
not only for hiring better security but also for introducing stadium metal
detectors and camera systems. One positive development is that as of next
year new legislation will make it possible for clubs to ban known offenders
from matches, and that won’t be the only deterrent. A court on wheels is
also expected to be put into use in the autumn, whereby offenders arrested
by the police can expect to be tried on the spot.
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