Football-specific legislation is unnecessary – existing laws can deal with alcohol misuse. It’s time to bring the sport in line with rugby union and cricket
13 October ~ Like with a lot of sports, drinking alcohol is an important part of the matchday experience for many football fans. It’s a relationship that advertisers, retailers and sponsors love. Yet while the drinking by supporters of, say, cricket or rugby union is seen as harmless, football fans face severe restrictions around consuming alcohol at a match which followers of no other sports have to deal with.
As Amanda Jacks has pointed in a blog for the Football Supporters’ Federation, only in football is drinking alcohol in view of the pitch or even on a coach or mini bus on the way to a match considered a criminal offence. “The time is right to ask what this legislation actually achieves beyond criminalising fans,” Jacks says.
She goes on: “There is absolutely no evidence or research to suggest that these laws have any bearing whatsoever on preventing or curtailing football related disorder in and around our stadiums. Academic research that has found that alcohol restrictions can often cause more problems than they are supposed to prevent.”
It’s an issue that Tom Furnival-Adams discussed in WSC in 2014, an article republished by the Guardian here. As Jacks points out: “Police already have powers at their disposal to deal with alcohol misuse – such as drink driving, or being drunk and disorderly – so don't need to rely on football-specific alcohol laws.”
Jacks concludes: “The playing field needs to be levelled and it’s time to abolish alcohol-related legislation specific to football and for the games’ fans to be viewed, through the eyes of the law, as equal to supporters of other sports and leisure activities.”
Photo by Paul Thompson/WSC photography: Leicester fans enjoying a free beer provided for home fans by the clubs owners