UEFA’s decision to allow fans to consume alcohol at Champions League and Europa League games from the start of the 2018-19 season has been welcomed by the group Football Supporters Europe (FSE).
European football’s governing body has amended its regulation that prohibited the sale and distribution of alcohol at its matches, with it now being permitted, subject to national and local laws.
It means supporters at such fixtures will be able to have alcohol in the stands in countries where that is already allowed at games, such as Germany.
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In England, where that is not the case, fans will be able to consume alcohol in other parts of the stadium but not in their seats.
In a statement released on Tuesday, FSE welcomed UEFA’s decision, with the fans group’s chief executive Ronan Evain saying: “For a long time football supporters have felt unfairly treated in comparison with fans of other sports like rugby, to say the least.
“It is not the sport you follow which makes you behave better or worse. Furthermore, the alcohol ban did not apply to VIP areas at football matches, causing a two-class society even within the stadia.
“Supporters felt that the alcohol banning policy was paternalistic, as there is absolutely no evidence or research to suggest that banning alcohol in a stadium has any bearing whatsoever on preventing or curtailing football-related disorder in and around it.”
The FSE statement added: “With alcoholic beverages offered in stadia, it could reasonably be expected that supporters might enter the stadium earlier, leading to less congestion and better crowd management on entry, and a consequent positive impact on general safety and security.”
UEFA’s executive committee made the decision to amend article 36 of its stadium and security regulations for the start of 2018-19 at a meeting in Kiev.
That article now reads: “The match organiser: a) may only sell or distribute alcohol within the stadium or its private environs if and within the limits permitted under the national and local law as applicable from time to time; b) must ensure that all alcohol and alcohol-free drinks which are sold or distributed are dispensed in paper or open plastic containers which cannot be used in a dangerous manner.”
UEFA has said a thorough evaluation was made on the matter.
It also said that in defining the policy regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol ahead of each game, the match organiser must give due consideration to the profile of supporters expected to attend and the associated risks, and monitor fan behaviour and take appropriate measures, which may include a prohibition or limitation on the sale and distribution of alcohol.