PtG Article 31.01.2007

Feyenoord questions whether a club can be responsible for hooligans

The behaviour of violent fans at a match in Nancy last November, has cost the Dutch club Feyenoord its place in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup after UEFA's Appeals Body decided to exclude the Rotterdam team from all UEFA competitons this season. The club feels let down by the police that was warned that banned supporters were on their way to France.

According to the German magazine, 5-600 Feyenoord fans vandalised down-town Nancy breaking windows and wounding an officer on the day of the match between Feyenoord and AS Nancy-Lorraine. Teargas was used against the hooligans and five were arrested. The rest were allowed to continue to the stadium.

Here the disturbances continued in the stands, where fans ripped out seats and started throwing them around. The match had to be stopped for a while whilst fans of the French team were evacuated and the police used teargas again to restore a measure of order.

The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body originally decided that the punishment for Feyenoord should be a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs and a suspended sentence of two matches behind closed doors. But UEFA itself found the verdict too mild and appealed it.

"The fact we appealed showed that we were not happy with the original verdict. Everyone is talking about zero tolerance," UEFA spokesman William Gaillard told Reuters.

UEFA's Appeals Body changed the punishment to a fine and exclusion from all UEFA tournaments this year.

Justice may not have been done

The punishment has enormous implications for Feyenoord, said manager Onno Jacobs in a statement on the club's website.

"Feyenoord will suffer greatly at both the financial and the sporting level. We will miss out on match receipts, TV money, any premiums and much more," the statement reads.

Therefore the  Rotterdam-based club now appeals the verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because it does not believe it can be held responsible for the crowd disturbances.

"We want to have the verdict of the UEFA Appeals Board tested in juridical terms as we have the feeling that justice has not been done," Onno Jacobs said.

Holland needs new law for hooligansFeyenoord's director feels let down by the police in France that was warned beforehand that known hooligans had bought tickets in Nancy because they were barred from buying official tickets from the club. He wonders why the police in Nancy allowed the violent fans to continue to the football stadium after they smashed up the inner city.

To solve the problem, the Feyenoord director as well as the director of the Dutch Football Federation Hen Kessler want a law in the Netherlands which will force hooligans to report regularly to the police and thereby ensure that they do not travel to matches outside their place of living.

"There are hooligans walking around who have 20-year bans for all Dutch stadiums. Events in Nancy could have been prevented with a reporting obligation," Jacobs believes.