Criminalising football fans: London event

Institute of Ideas event in association with the FSF

Football supporters going to see their teams play can experience a degree of regulation and control that few others encounter, outside of an airport.

From “bubble matches” forcing visiting fans to travel in designated coaches leaving from their own club’s stadium, to Football Banning Orders for fans who’ve never been convicted of a crime, to Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act which allows police to remove someone from a particular area – even if no offence has been committed, fans seem to be singled out, particularly those who follow their side away from home.

Despite this, fans rarely feature in civil liberty campaigns. So is it time to stand up for football fans’ freedom of movement, speech, and fair treatment under the law? Or are these measures necessary to prevent a return to the “bad old days”? Are fans singled out because of prejudices relating to football’s working class roots? What can be done to allow the law-abiding majority to enjoy their sport, without being made to feel like criminals?