Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

UK bans 3,000 hooligans from South Africa World Cup

England football fans
Thousands of England fans are expected to attend the World Cup

The UK government says it will ban more than 3,000 England football hooligans from travelling to South Africa for the World Cup in the summer.

Measures to stop troublemakers from going to the tournament will be passed in the Commons in the next few weeks, according to the Home Office.

This will allow a "control period" to be imposed on about 3,200 hooligans currently subject to banning orders.

Home Office figures show the number of hooligan arrests fell last season.

Banning orders, imposed by the courts on those who commit disorder around matches, prevent troublemakers from attending domestic football matches and can mean they have to surrender their passports to police before international games.

They can last up to 10 years, and the precise conditions can be tailored on a case-by-case basis.

The behaviour of English fans has improved dramatically in recent years and there is nothing to suggest that people will travel with the intention of causing problems
Home Office spokesman

For the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to apply the sanction for the month-long duration of the World Cup, a statutory instrument would have to be laid before Parliament, a Home Office spokesman said.

The powers are part of the process whereby officials try to prevent England fans from being able to cause trouble during international events, he said.

'No complacency'

"Football banning orders have proved highly effective in preventing known-risk fans from travelling overseas to football matches," the spokesman said.

"There has been no significant violence at any England match or tournament played overseas since 2000 when the current football disorder strategy was introduced along with very tough banning order legislation.

"The behaviour of English fans has improved dramatically in recent years and there is nothing to suggest that people will travel with the intention of causing problems.

"However, there is no complacency."

Police would monitor all England fans on departure and intercept any known to pose a risk of violence or disorder, he said.

"And we are working closely with South African authorities to help minimise any safety and security risks associated with hosting a major football tournament."

Home Office figures released last month showed there were 3,752 arrests at matches in England and Wales - a fall of 2% on the 2007/8 season.

The World Cup begins on 11 June, and England are the only UK nation to have qualified for the tournament.

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