Football fans risk travel ban blocking them from going to World Cup
Fans are being warned that anyone who commits a football-related offence, in person or online, is at risk of being banned from going to the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, as well as the Women’s World Cup next year and the Euros in 2024.
Today, the CPS and the National Police Chiefs’ Council are reinforcing our joint commitment to work together to help reduce the level of football-related crimes, including violent crime, racist, homophobic and discriminatory chanting and abuse, the use of pyrotechnics and entering the field of play.
It comes after statistics published last month revealed that 516 new football banning orders (FBOs) were issued during last season after a total of 2,198 arrests.
Because FBOs have a minimum duration of three years, anyone subjected to a banning order now will be prevented from travelling to support England or Wales at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand or the Germany 2024 UEFA Euro as well as qualifying matches.
In 2018, more than 1,200 offenders were stopped from going to support England at the World Cup in Russia.
The statement also is updated in view of the availability of banning orders for crimes involving hateful statements communicated via social media. Banning orders are available for those offences with effect from the 29 June 2022. Further, the test that the court must apply when considering issuing a banning order has also changed with effect from 29 June 2022 to make it easier for these orders to be imposed.
When prosecuting hate crimes, such as homophobic or racial abuse, the CPS will ask the courts for tougher penalties.
The CPS is currently working with the police, clubs, player bodies and organisations like the Premier League, the English Football League, and the Football Association to explain how these crimes are prosecuted and what information is needed to pass the charging threshold and build strong cases.
Douglas Mackay, CPS Sports Lead Prosecutor and Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Midlands, said: “There are just weeks to go before the World Cup. Fans shouldn’t do anything that will stop them following their nation and supporting them live for the biggest international tournaments in football.
“Banning orders can have a huge impact on an offender’s ability to enjoy the game, and their life – from stopping you from going to the pub around match times and being in the vicinity of games to travelling abroad.
“At the CPS, we play a crucial role in tackling football-related crimes and working with partners to make our national sport inclusive, safe to watch and play in.”
Earlier this month, a 20-year-old Manchester City fan was given a three-year banning order for throwing a pyrotechnic at a Premier League match. Also, this year, a 26-year-old was handed a banning order for a Nazi salute at a Europa League game and a 21-year-old was banned from football for homophobic chanting.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, NPCC Lead for Football Policing, said: “This updated policy reinforces the fact that we will not tolerate football related violence of any form – whether it be in and around stadiums or online whilst hiding behind a keyboard.
“New legislation means football banning orders are also now being issued to those cowards who post online abuse to players and staff, and it is right that people who commit these vile crimes are held accountable for their actions.
“Anyone considering committing a football related offence should be aware that they will be handed a football banning order wherever possible, and this will result in being banned from all matches for a minimum of three years - including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the 2024 Euros in Germany.
“The increase in arrests and football banning orders seen in the release of last season’s disorder statistics demonstrates that the police are taking positive action, working closely with the CPS. We collectively need to make football a safe environment for the overwhelming majority of supporters who just want to enjoy the game.”
Notes to editors
- Douglas Mackay is the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Midlands and CPS sports lead prosecutor
- Chief Constable Mark Roberts is the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Football Policing
- Read the updated joint statement from the CPS and NPCC on football banning orders.