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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Hooligans banned from Germany game
England fans clash with police at Euro 2000
The new legislation came into force following trouble at Euro 2000
More than 500 England football fans have been banned from attending this weekend's World Cup qualifier match in Germany.

A total of 537 alleged hooligans - a record number - have received letters from the Home Office ordering them to surrender their passports at local police stations ahead of the game in Munich.

Police will be in Germany to weed out trouble-makers
Security officials admit the match is a "high risk" fixture and hope the measures will prevent England's worst trouble-makers from attending.

An undisclosed number of plain clothes police officers will also travel to Germany to help identify offenders who slip through the net.

The majority of banning orders have been issued under the Football Disorder Act which came into force following violent clashes involving English fans during Euro 2000 in Brussels.

Large police presence

Mark Steels, of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, said the police operation at the match would be the largest ever mounted for a single England international match abroad.

Most of the 537 who are banned from travelling are known hooligans with previous convictions.

A further 45 are "on complaint", which means magistrates have been convinced by police that they pose a threat.

Paul Thomas, of the Football Supporters' Association (FSA), said his organisation opposed the Home Office's policy of issuing banning orders to people who had no convictions for a football-related offence.

'Worrying precedent'

He said: "It's a very worrying precedent and we do not think it is an effective way of stopping hooliganism - it smacks very much of a knee-jerk reaction on the government's part.

"If, however, people have been convicted we fully support the banning orders."

Mr Thomas said effective policing and creating the right atmosphere among fans prior to a match were also important elements to consider when tackling hooliganism.

He said representatives from the FSA had been to Munich to meet the police ahead of the game and they were quite satisfied that the Germans had got it "spot on".

The first large-scale use of banning orders under the new legislation came in June when 454 English fans were banned from attending England's clash against Greece.

See also:

03 Sep 00 | UK
New football laws praised
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