Soccer fan clubs get the boot

Autonomous clubs for soccer supporters are to be banned and replaced by less fanatic groupings, according to a draft law aimed at preventing sports-related violence that was presented by the government yesterday. The bill aims to ensure that the new supporter associations will be strictly controlled by the sports teams they back. Clubs will also be made responsible for security in stadiums, along the lines of a model successfully introduced in the UK in the 1990s. «The government’s main aim is to stamp out violence so that families can return to the stadiums,» said Yiannis Ioannidis, the deputy culture minister in charge of sports. «It is not a panacea for the problem [of violence] but it is a tool. We owe it to our children.» The draft law also proposes tougher penalties for people convicted of violent acts inside sports grounds. The change in the law follows an increase in soccer violence in recent years, most tragically the death of a Panathinaikos supporter during clashes last year.