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With great irritation, FSE noted the latest decisions of the Osservatorio, the main body for safety and security in Italian football, affecting owners of alternative loyalty cards to the national fan ID card Tessera del Tifoso, in this case affecting holders of the AS Roma Away Card.

The Osservatorio pushed for a travel ban for holders of the AS Roma Away Card since the beginning of this season, on the basis of the argument that a total number of 23 spectators over four matches in the past season, allegedly in possession of the AS Roma Away Card, were found guilty of disturbing public order or security. This was used as the main argument against the AS Roma Away Card. There is a total of more than 6000 AS Roma supporters in possession of the AS Roma Away Card, a fidelity card that have been affected by these decisions.

 

Furthermore, the argument against the AS Roma Away Card simply ignored the wide-spread evidence available over the past seasons, where many more than 23 people in possession of the national fan ID card scheme known as “Tessera del Tifoso” have equally been found guilty of committing public order or criminal offenses. The “Tessera del Tifoso” though, in contrast to the AS Roma Away Card, was introduced by the Osservatorio and is widely rejected amongst football supporters because, among the various reasons,it is connected with a credit card circuit and there is a tracking chip inside.

There is no question that any person posting a serious threat to the safety and security of a football match, is one person too much. But in view of the arguments presented against the legitimate AS Roma Away Card scheme, we cannot acknowledge these as legitimate arguments against the club loyalty card scheme as such. Especially in comparison with the evidently higher number of public order offenses committed by holders of the Tessera del Tifoso, we see our view confirmed that neither the AS Roma Away Card, nor the Tessera del Tifoso are effective means to ensure safety in Italian football. They only ever create greater hurdles for a majority of peaceful fans to obtain tickets and are one of the main factors responsible for very low or even further dropping attendances in Italian professional football.

As Football Supporters Europe (FSE), we addressed the Osservatorio with a letter expressing our opposition to the decisions taken and urged all members of the Osservatorio to reconsider their approach towards such alternative loyalty card schemes sustainably and involve affected supporters representatives in consultation before any decisions affecting fans are taken.

In line with European best practice models endorsed by the Council of Europe and the EU, we consider this an integral matter of ensuring legitimacy of any measures taken for the safety of all spectators and for preventing collective negative stigmatization of all fans as a problem.

The measures now taken against all AS Roma Away Card holders are in fact counter-productive and do punish a majority of more than 6000 genuine supporters for the actions of a tiny minority. From our recollections as participants of the event representing the football supporters, these measures are not in line with the conclusions given out at the conference held in Spoleto (PG ) from 29 al 30 May 2013 entitled "Making safety together: a resource for European football".

As FSE, the independent, representative and democratically organized grass-roots network of football fans' in Europe, with members in currently more than 40 countries across the continent, we are convinced that such repressive measures affecting all fans as potential problems are counter-productive in the fundamental involvement of football supporters in the constructive and transparent dialogue with all the other stakeholders. We hereby underline our request and urge the Osservatorio

-          to pave the way for the use of alternative, local loyalty card schemes, if desired by the clubs

-          to abandon the Tessera del Tifoso as evidently ineffective means of ensuring safety and security in Italian football

-          to invest more credible and extensive efforts in consultation with supporters on a continuing basis beyond match days  

-          to prioritize safety and security strategies in football focused on good hosting, dialogue and de-escalation

As FSE, including our members in Italy, remains ready for the provision of advice and expertise on best practice models as alternatives to restrictive measures across Europe.

 

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