Belgium to reinforce soccer stadium security after violence

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. hooliganism / ˈhul ɪgəˌnɪzəm / (n.) – violent and destructive behavior, especially when describing gangs or sports fans

    Several fans were told to leave the arena due to hooliganism.

  2. flare / flɛər / (n.) – a burning device that glows bright and is often used for signals

    We used flares to guide the rescuers while they were landing.

  3. pitch / pɪtʃ / (n.) – an area, often a grassy ground, used for playing certain sports

    Once the game starts, audience members are not allowed on the pitch.

  4. offence / əˈfɛns / (n.) – an act that’s prohibited by rules or laws

    You might get expelled if you commit a major offence at school.

  5. steward / ˈstu ərd / (n.) – a person who is in charge of managing a place

    One of the stewards helped us find our seats in the stadium.


Read the text below.

Belgium’s Interior minister met with league and club officials to present them with details of a draft law aimed at reinforcing the fight against soccer hooliganism following repeated incidents this season.

The meeting took place after a first-division match between Charleroi and Mechelen was stopped over the weekend due to the fans’ behavior. The game was abandoned after Charleroi fans threw flares onto the pitch.

The “Classico” between Standard Liege and Anderlecht was also marred by fan disorder and had to be abandoned after 63 minutes.

Last season, the repetition of incidents led to visiting fans being banned by the league for a month in the two top divisions.

“A few fans endanger the safety of many people and thus damage the image of soccer,” Interior minister Annelies Verlinden said after the meeting. “The previously announced strengthening of the soccer law is therefore absolutely necessary.”

As part of the plan devised earlier this year, the Belgian government wants to impose tougher penalties and tighten access to stadiums to keep hooligans away.

Under the new law, which should be approved by the federal government, clubs will be punished more severely if, for instance, they don’t comply with the regulations on ticket sales or if they do not take sufficient precautions to ban the use of flares.

In addition, offences such as physical violence, racism or the use of fireworks would be punishable by stadium bans of up to ten years, instead of the current five.

And to make sure individuals subjected to stadium bans are not allowed at venues, stewards and agents working for private security companies will be able to check fans’ identity to see if it matches names on tickets.

“Everyone must take their responsibilities,” Verlinden said.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Hooligans endanger the safety of others and destroy property. Do you think banning them from stadiums is enough, or should they be charged with a crime? Discuss.
  • Government officials in Belgium plan to make offenses such as physical violence, racism, or the use of fireworks punishable by stadium bans of up to ten years. What other offenses would you include (ex. vandalism, theft)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Should sports clubs be responsible for their fans’ misbehavior? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How would you describe sports fans in your country (ex. respectful, disorganized)? Discuss.