Football act kicks off

FANS attending this weekend’s football matches face up to five years in jail if they do anything deemed unlawfully “offensive”.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 comes into force today.

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The legislation gives police and prosecutors additional tools to crack down on sectarian songs and abuse at and around football matches and threats posted on the internet or through the mail. However, critics have branded it a “snob’s law” which targets football fans and nobody else.

The act creates two new offences, punishable up to a maximum of five years in prison and an unlimited fine. The first offence targets “hateful, threatening or otherwise offensive behaviour” expressed at and around football matches which is likely to cause public disorder.

The second offence relates to the communication of threats of serious harm or which are intended to stir up religious hatred.