Violence in sport remains a problem. Violence on and off the pitch impacts the image of both the sport and athletes as role models. Violent behaviour can also jeopardise the role of sport as a tool to convey positive values.
The Commission recognises that violence in sport not only concerns spectators in major sport events; unfortunately, violence and various forms of intolerance occur in many modalities on the on and off the fields of local amateur clubs – particularly in the context of team sports. The EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s study on racism and ethnic discrimination in sport indicates that racism and discrimination have become increasingly prevalent in both amateur and youth sport.
How the EU combats violence and discrimination in sport
The Commission is committed to the prevention of spectator violence. On the basis of Council Decision 2002/348/JHA (amended by Council Decision 2007/412/JHA), a data exchange between National Football Information Points has been developed. Services and/or sports authorities are now able to exchange operational information on high-risk supporters with police services and/or sports authorities. Furthermore, the Commission also promotes the widening use of the Handbook for Police Cooperation, and supports pan-European anti-sports violence training for police officers and safety personnel.
Other actions include:
- The arrangement for cooperation between the Commission and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), aims at consolidating and strengthening the existing cooperation – including in the field of violence.
- Since 2016, the Commission has supported the Council of Europe in promoting safety and security at sports events (projects ProS4 and ProS4+).
- The Erasmus+ programme (2014-2020) tackles cross-border threats to the integrity of sport – such as violence – through its sport actions.
Future challenges in preventing violence
In its Communication on sport, the Commission pointed out the importance of investing more in social and educational measures to prevent violence in sport. To ensure that sport keeps its welcoming and enjoyable character and to minimise safety and security risks, all competent agencies should be encouraged to support or implement social and educational measures to prevent violence. The Commission has supported projects in this field since 2009 and has included combatting violence as one of the priorities of the sport chapter of the Erasmus+ programme.