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Disclaimer: This press release was translated from the original version in English. Eurojust cannot be held responsible for the quality of the translation. In the event of any discrepancies, please consult the original version of the press release.
Judicial cooperation in the UEFA 2016 and 2020 European Football Championships
The Hague, 18 June 2015
Experts from seven Member States of the European Union: Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, the UK and France, as well as the European Judicial Network and the European Commission, today agreed at Eurojust in The Hague to increased cooperation to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes that might be committed by football hooligans at major sports events such as the UEFA European Football Championships.
Football is the most popular sport in the world and has a huge fan base around the globe. While most fans enjoy the tournaments peacefully and create a wonderful atmosphere, football hooligans abuse these games with their unruly, violent, and destructive behaviour. These acts often constitute criminal offences, which include not only hooliganism, but also a range of crime, including ticket fraud and drug crime.
Because the suspects often come from foreign countries and evidence will also have to be obtained from abroad, there is a need for smooth international cooperation, not only at police level but also between the involved prosecutors and judicial authorities.
The meeting was proposed by Eurojust to assist Member States in organising the UEFA European Championships in 2016 and 2020 and to develop best practice on how to manage football fans who commit crime across borders. The UEFA 2020 tournament will take place in 13 cities across the continent (Munich, Dublin, London, Glasgow, Baku, Copenhagen, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Rome, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Brussels and Bilbao), and, in this regard, the smooth functioning of judicial cooperation in criminal matters at international level will be more important than ever.
The participants discussed the major judicial challenges in efficiently bringing to justice those who commit offences during major tournaments. This entails where to prosecute certain perpetrators - in the host country or after surrender in their country of origin; how to swiftly obtain evidence from the perpetrators’ countries of origin; and how to build the necessary contacts between the judicial authorities of the involved countries prior to the tournament, among other things.
Mr Michael Rothaermel, Eurojust Contact Point for Sports-related Crime, commented: ‘Successfully tackling these crimes should be based on shared experience and best practice among the Member States that have organised major sports events in the past and those who will do so in the future. This will contribute to making football safer for all by deterring football hooligans, which is in the interest of the sport, society and citizens affected by violence related to major tournaments. Therefore, I am very pleased that we have succeeded in gathering experienced colleagues from so many different Member States. We will now be able to build upon a unique pool of expertise that will enable us to properly address these important judicial issues.’
The outcome of the meeting will be made available to practitioners in the form of concrete recommendations.
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