Football Supporter Law – Teachers’ Materials

Along with all my football blogs which can be found under the Football Banning Order link on the right hand bottom of the blog page, the following materials supplement this leaflet titled Are you a footie fan? Do you know there are special laws relating to you? and are aimed at teachers who wish to create a lesson or promote discussion on the issues raised in the leaflet, or wider issues relating to football supporter law.  Please download the leaflet and promote it to your students, even students who are not football fans will benefit from knowing that there are special laws that apply to football fans as they will most likely know someone who is a football fan.  This leaflet is also the opener to wider discussions as suggested below.

Which fans are the most likely to be arrested at a football match and charged with offences related to football?

A good way to start the debate on football related arrests and violence is to raise the question of which clubs have the most arrests and convictions for football related offences.  Most students who have any interest in football will probably come up with either Milwall, Leeds United or West Ham United as having the most arrests.  The statistics for the 2012/13 season show otherwise.  This can promote discussion on stereotyping and media influencing.  Why is it that these three clubs are perceived to be the worse?  Do the students actually have any real knowledge of the number of arrests at matches or have they just jumped to conclusions based on what they hear and read in the media.  How would the students feel if they were fans of a club where there is misconception that all the fans of that team are thugs.  Did any of the students guess that Manchester United fans were the most arrested?  Why?

Football related arrests by club 2013

Is football disorder as bad as it is made out to be?

In general, when reference is made to football fans being arrested, the term ‘Hooligan’ is used.  Students can be asked to define hooligan, what does it mean to them, and do they know where it originally comes from, and the fact that its origins were not in football, but that the term in recent years has been used solely in the football context.  The Oxford English Dictionary explains ‘Hooligan’ historically as a last name of a fictional rowdy Irish family in a music hall song.  But the Urban dictionary defines ‘Hooligan’ as a thug who goes to football matches and regularly starts fights.  The media have taken a wider view of hooligan and use it to describe anyone arrested at a football match.   Students can be asked to consider the use of the word and whether it has been removed from its original meaning, and also whether it is actually more of a slang word nowadays in view of the fact it is used to describe so many different scenarios.  The news reports below are an example of this.  Students can be asked to decide whether they think that each of those situations described in the news articles do relate to ‘hooligan’ behaviour or whether it is sensationalizing by the press.  Students should also be alex to consider the impact and effect that being named as a ‘hooligan’ in the press may have on a person. What about the situation where football fans are named even before they have been convicted of an offence?  Should they be entitled to have their identity withheld unless they are convicted of an offence.  What about the fact that their mug shot photos are provided in the media, should this be allowed or is it a breach of the fans’ right to privacy?

Wrexham football fans grossly offensive in Chester

Spotters catch Tiger’s fan in the ground

Tyne and Wear yobs jail sentences

Huddersfield dad of two gets banning order for nazi salute

This article gives a great insight into the range of issues football fans have to deal with and the associated stereotyping. Football banning orders, don’t always believe the hype

And if football violence and disorder is so offensive to the general public, why is it that those on the pitch can act in exactly the same way as a fan and not be prosecuted or banned from football?  The question has to be raised as to whether the players actually have a greater responsibility due to the fact they are role models and directly represent the Club. FA charge manchester City Midfielder Gareth Barry

What is Football Policing?

Football Policing is now very sophisticated, all Police Forces have Football Intelligence Officers who liaise with the clubs and co-ordinate the football policing and any applications for football banning orders.  Each police force also has football spotters, these are police officers who regularly attend football matches and get to know who is a ‘risk’ fan.  Those fans who are risk fans will often be spoken to or filmed by the police spotters.  Many Police Forces receive a cash incentive from the Home office for each football banning order they obtain, this leads to the question of whether the police have an incentive to apply for football banning orders and whether this leads to a lack of independent consideration of whether a football banning order is appropriate in the circumstances Police paid to seek football banning orders

These articles give a bit of an insight into football policing PC Price Northamptonshire Police Football Intelligence Officer reveals how football matches are policed  Humberside Police Football Operation Feather

South Yorkshire Police football policing

Is a Club good behavior contract the way forward?

The Football banning order can have very far reaching consequences, as I have explained in my blog, and it will show up on a CRB check.  Some clubs are keen to avoid fan’s being given criminal records and football banning orders and so have created good behavior contracts.  These are a contract between the fan and the Club, and if the fan breaches the good behavior contract they are likely to be given a club ban.  These good behavior contracts are civil and do not really have any legally binding power, but a trip to the Chairman’s office for a telling off and a warning that a failure to behave will result in a club ban is often all a fan needs to be brought back on track.  Students can discuss whether the good behavior contract is appropriate, particularly as it is not binding, and is not reviewed for its fairness (as a football banning order application would be), but it does mean that the fan does not have a football related order on their CRB.  Linking in to the discussions in the sections above, students should be encouraged to consider whether having a football related order on  a fan’s record is likely to be seen as worse than a non-football related offence, and why?

Rowdy fans ordered to sign football behavior contracts to avoid a football banning order

Finally there has been a great deal of discussion recently on the use of ‘Yid” by Tottenham Hotspur fans.  Students can debate the right to free speech and free identity.  Should fans be able to use the word if they have no intention to cause offense by it and  have used it as their own identifier for the past 30 to 40 years?  If fans can use the word to describe themselves, hows does that differentiate with the case of the fan who received a football banning order for making a Nazi salute (see the article above).

charges dropped against Spurs fans for Yid chants

Teachers with any queries on these materials or my content should email me at gurdena@btinternet.com

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