Preparing for Euro 2000
For the first time in history, two countries will jointly organise a football championship. For several reasons, Euro 2000 is not a smaller version of a World Championship (e.g. the World Cup held in France, 1998). The territories of the organising countries are relatively small. As a consequence, at any time visitors can easily travel between cities where matches are played or to other towns. All countries taking part in Euro 2000 are relatively close to the host countries. Borders are open and excellent connections by air, rail, water and road exist. Both Belgium and the Netherlands are densely populated and many special events will be held during Euro 2000. In addition, many tourists visit these countries in June. On top of that: both Belgium and the Netherlands have a long tradition of football hooliganism.
The Netherlands and Belgium opt for a pro-active, preventive approach to ensure the festive, safe nature of the event. To prepare for Euro 2000, a government framework of basic policy assumptions and tolerance limits has been drawn up. It states that visitors will be treated as guests and will be expected to act as guests. Misconduct will be dealt with immediately. Offenders will be prosecuted under criminal law. The police will have to contribute to the festive nature of the event. Police deployment will be aimed at keeping the peace, employing a mixture of preventive, pro-active and restraining methods. For this purpose, a profile of police conduct has been formulated. Before and during Euro 2000 maximum co-operation at operational levels is sought. A treaty is made to achieve maximum co-operation with respect to supportive, general and technical services (exchange of intelligence, supervision of fans, use of materials, traffic control, etc.). Arrangements are made to make cross-border policing possible in specified circumstances.
Together, both governments have set requirements for ticket sales and minimum conditions for deployment of stewards. The basic security assumptions surrounding Euro 2000 are that the organisers will bear primary responsibility inside, and the police outside the stadia.
Effective communication is considered to make a significant contribution. This applies to public announcements with respect to tolerance limits, ticket policy as well as to police conduct and to mutual communication among the various organisations and individuals involved. An information folder explaining tolerance limits will be sent to those who buy tickets. Authorities in various participating countries will be asked to make announcements about tolerance limits. A binational information platform and a binational police information centre will be set up for the provision of administrative and operational intelligence. In the spring of 2000, a meeting of participating countries will be convened during which agreements will be made about the use of spotters, liaisons and related provision of information. Researchers from Belgium gathered information on the behaviour of fans attending international matches.
As experiences from other tournaments indicated the complex but vital impact of ticketing, ticket sales will be regulated to bring about controlled sales. The aim is to bring about maximum fan separation and to eliminate the "anonymity" of spectators wherever possible. Both governments have reached a final agreement with UEFA/ Euro 2000 council about ticketing:
- tickets carry the words "not transferable";
- sales of tickets behind the goals may not exceed 95%. Only if measures taken by the organisers are deemed sufficient by local authorities, will the remaining 5% be sold;
- sale of tickets to participating associations (16% of the total) will take place in three blocks. Before the next block becomes available, the association must supply a list of names identifying for whom the tickets are intended;
- UEFA and non-participating associations receive a maximum of 5% of tickets;
cross-checks will be made to prevent people from receiving several tickets in the same name;
- per applicant only two tickets are available;
- the use of tour operators is restricted;
- sanctions will be taken by UEFA on member associations that do not uphold agreements.
In Belgium, but not in the Netherlands, administrative detention competencies exist. In the Netherlands, a bill is being prepared to be able to impose legal restrictions on the freedom of movement when necessary. The Schengen treaty (section 2, subsection 2) allows for the temporary reinstatement of border controls. In specific circumstances this possibility might be used.
A binational police co-operation project has been set up In the course of the project, innovative ideas are being developed which are in line with a pro-active, preventive approach. This includes employing every means possible to avoid an image of "beleaguerment" (e.g. by using a zeppelin rather than helicopters to observe crowds) and the build-up of stress in the security forces.
Other countries may also play a significant role in evaluation and communication. The development of a complementary media and communication strategy in participating countries may help to inform potential visitors and fans adequately before the event. Police spotters, stewards and fan coaches also contribute to an effective communication with fans, thereby avoiding misunderstandings and solving potential problems. In this respect, setting up temporary points of contact ("embassies" or an international supporters home) for foreign visitors could prove helpful.