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Friday, December 26, 1997 Published at 12:19 GMT


Football hooligans to be barred from World Cup
image: [ England and Italian fans clashed with riot police in Italy last October ]
England and Italian fans clashed with riot police in Italy last October

The Home Secretary has said convicted football hooligans should not be allowed to travel to France for next summer's World Cup finals.

The BBC's Karl Newman reports (Dur: 1-06)
Jack Straw plans to write to courts across Britain urging them to place restriction orders on offenders.

He said if orders could be imposed on all known troublemakers it would be almost certain that there would be no trouble from British fans at the World Cup.

[ image: Jack Straw wants restriction orders imposed on known hooligans]
Jack Straw wants restriction orders imposed on known hooligans
Mr Straw said there would be "no absolute guarantees" that there would be not be any trouble at the matches. But he promised to co-operate fully with the French authorities and to send out a stern message to hooligans.

Mr Straw said he was concerned that the power to impose restriction orders had only been used 10 times, despite being on the statute book since 1989.

"It's for that reason that I have written to magistrates' courts, the Crown Prosecution Service and indeed the crown courts to remind them of the power to give restriction orders in the expectation that when they are more familiar with the power they will use it far more effectively," he said.

"If they (football hooligans) misbehave between now and the World Cup and they are convicted and exclusion orders imposed upon them then they will be attending a police station during the World Cup not a ground in France.

"What we want to get across to the French authorities is that the overwhelming majority of people who go from this country to watch soccer games during the World Cup will be extremely well behaved just as they were during Euro '96 or are on every Saturday of the football season," Mr Straw said.

No repeat of Italian disturbances

The Home Secretary said England fans were partly to blame for crowd disturbances at the national side's 0-0 draw with Italy in Rome last October.

He said the Football Association would be closely cooperating with Fifa and the French authorities to control tickets for the World Cup.

Mr Straw also plans to hold a seminar about football hooliganism, in Blackburn, Lancashire, for European police forces.

"What we will do is give advice to the police forces of Europe, particularly in France, how we have pretty successfully tackled the major problems of football hooliganism in this country over the last decade," he said.

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