New plan to tackle violent soccer fans

Greater surveillance, e-ticketing and fewer police officers in stadiums are all measures that should be adopted to combat the menace of violence in Greek soccer, a committee recommended to authorities yesterday. The panel was made up of a wide array of experts, including representatives from the police, the Hellenic Soccer Federation (EPO) and the Greek Association of Professional Footballers (PSAP). It delivered its recommendations for the new season, which is due to start in August, to police chief Anastassios Dimoschakis. The report will also be used as the basis for talks with Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras in the next few days. Key among the committee’s recommendations are that there should be more CCTV cameras and that tickets for matches should be issued through an electronic system. The committee says that cameras should be installed in and around stadiums and that the images they record should be monitored at the police’s operation center. This technology exists at a few grounds and a high-ranking police source told Kathimerini that efforts are already under way, with the approval of Greece’s privacy watchdog, to install cameras at other stadiums. Fans should be issued with special identity cards which they will have to use to buy tickets, the committee said. This will allow soccer clubs and authorities to have easy access to records and track down troublemakers. Authorities have largely been unable to control soccer violence over the last two decades. It is regarded as one of the key factors that has deterred fans, particularly families, from attending soccer matches. The committee also recommended that stewards, hired and trained by the clubs, should gradually take over responsibility for security at the grounds, allowing the police to scale down their presence and avoid flash points with hardcore fans. The panel said that special police task forces dedicated to dealing with violence at sporting events should be created in Attica and Thessaloniki.

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