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Schmid calls for more action over hooligans

Schmid has given his thumbs up to Swiss participation in Euro 2008, but says more needs to be done Keystone Archive

Swiss Sports Minister Samuel Schmid has called for more to be done against violent football hooligans ahead of the 2008 European championships.

This content was published on May 28, 2006 - 16:47

Schmid said on Sunday he favoured a ban on alcohol around stadiums and extra security measures during Euro 2008, which is being jointly hosted by Switzerland and Austria.

His comments come two weeks after hundreds of football fans went on the rampage in Basel following the title decider between Basel and Zurich.

In interviews published in the Sunday media, Schmid said he personally supported an alcohol ban, as drinking encouraged violence.

But he recognised that the final decision lay with the cantons, and it was up to the police to work out the details.

Schmid also mentioned the possibility of face recognition technology being used, provided that data protection concerns were taken into account.

The use of small unmanned aircraft (drones) for surveillance had not been ruled out, he added. According to the minister, up to 10,000 soldiers will be on standby during Euro 2008, but will only intervene if asked to do so by the cantons.

Shock

Schmid added that the violence in Basel had come as a shock, but it had shown that extra measures - in addition to the anti-hooligan law passed in March - were necessary.

"In contrast with countries like England, Germany, France and the Netherlands, we in Switzerland are not well enough prepared," he told the SonntagsZeitung.

"In this respect, Basel was the best proof that we have to take precautions."

The anti-hooligan legislation includes a national hooligan database, travel restrictions for known troublemakers and increased police powers of arrest.

However, the tougher measures will not remain in force beyond 2009, as parliament fears parts of the law may be unconstitutional.

Added to this is the fact that a referendum may be launched against the law by a group of football supporters, who have until mid-July to collect signatures.

Catch-up

Schmid said the Swiss Football Association also needed to do some catching up on security issues.

He called on the association and European football's governing body, Uefa, to come up with proposals to combat prostitution and human trafficking during Euro 2008.

In terms of costs, Schmid said the cabinet had rejected Swiss host cities' demands for more money to help with security, but he said he understood their concerns.

The minister did not, however, rule out that the cost of hosting the championships could rise above the current figure of SFr65 million ($53 million).

Schmid added that there was a buffer of SFr10 million for unforeseen situations such as a terrorist attack.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Organised jointly with Austria, Euro 2008 will kick off on June 7, 2008, in Basel and finish on June 29 in Vienna. Fifteen of the 31 matches will take place in Switzerland – six in Basel and three each in Geneva, Bern and Zurich.

Post-match riots marred the Swiss football championship decider earlier this month. One hundred people were injured in one of the worst episodes of football violence ever seen in the country.

Hooliganism has increased in Switzerland in recent years. According to estimates, there are around 400 hooligans and 600 sympathisers.

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