testAt its latest meeting in Kiev, UEFA’s Executive Committee amended its regulation on the distribution of alcohol, which is now permitted within the limits of national and local laws.

FSE welcomes this decision.

UEFA has recently announced that the sale and distribution of alcohol within the stadiums and their private environs will be permitted from the beginning of the 2018/19 season. National and local laws will now prevail for all UEFA competitions.

The amended article 36 of UEFA’s Safety and Security Regulations (2006 edition) reads as follows:
“The match organiser may only sell or distribute alcohol within the stadium or its private environs if and within the limits permitted under the national and local law as applicable from time to time.“

Football Supporters Europe welcomes this decision of the Executive Committee, which is in line with UEFA’s commitment to improve services in its competitions.

Ronan Evain, CEO of FSE, stated: “For a long time football supporters have felt unfairly treated in comparison with fans of other sports like rugby, to say the least. It is not the sport you follow which makes you behave better or worse. Furthermore, the alcohol ban did not apply to VIP areas at football matches, causing a two-class society even within the stadia. Supporters felt that the alcohol banning policy was paternalistic, as there is absolutely no evidence or research to suggest that banning alcohol in a stadium has any bearing whatsoever on preventing or curtailing football-related disorder in and around it.”

The decision to sell alcohol in the stadia could also have further advantages as academic research has found that alcohol restrictions can often cause more problems than they are supposed to prevent. In 2010, researchers Geoff Pearson and Arianna Sale of the Universities of Liverpool and Milan concluded in their study on the effectiveness of alcohol controls at football matches that “alcohol restrictions are ineffective at reducing the level of drunkenness amongst fans” and public authorities “need to revisit the use by police and football authorities of alcohol controls to reduce crowd disorder and look to other methods of reducing the problem of football hooliganism.”

With alcoholic beverages offered in stadia, it could reasonably be expected that supporters might enter the stadium earlier, leading to less congestion and better crowd management on entry, and a consequent positive impact on general safety and security.

More broadly, this decision shows the potential for UEFA to adopt a country-by-country policy based on the specifics of existing domestic legislation and local football culture. This would be a sensible approach which could allow other major policy changes, such as the re-introduction of standing sections for UEFA club competitions, based on the domestic legislation and regulations in place.

 

Photo Credit: Hubert Figuière (CC)

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