NASSAU - FIFA president Sepp Blatter called for an end to enclosed fencing at football stadiums saying fans should not be treated like criminals or animals. Blatter, addressing FIFA's congress in the Bahamas, called for improved security in the wake of tragedies, such as the death of 19 fans in the Ivory Coast, but said there should be no place for fences designed to keep fans off the pitch. "Who is kept behind fences? Prisoners and wild animals. Are football fans in these two categories?," he asked delegates from 205 football federations. "It is not easy to do right away but it can be done step-by-step. Sitting people are calm," he added. Blatter said Britain, which this year marked the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster when 96 fans died, had shown the way to deal with stadium security. "In Great Britain there is no more fencing and only seated stadiums and there are no more problems in Britain. I don't say there aren't problems when fans leave the islands but that is a different story," he said. Although perimeter fencing has been removed from British grounds and many venues in western Europe, they remain widespread in other parts of the world. Blatter urged FIFA members to improve security outside stadiums noting that many tragedies, such as Hillsborough, had taken place when fans were left outside venues and tried to push their way in. "It is your duty in national associations and clubs to ensure security," said Blatter. The FIFA chief also called for hooligans to be driven out of the game. "These are not football fans, (often) they want to have a clash, not with other fans, but with the police or authorities. These elements we need to push out (of the game)," he said, adding that even Switzerland, home to FIFA, had experienced crowd trouble problems.
3 June 2009
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