Who has to pay for police services at football matches?

Mossos d'Esquadra - FutbolThe cost of police services involving major sports events ¾especially football matches¾ has been a source of controversy for some time. Police services have to provide a large number of officers, which may condition their staffing resources, and consequently the service they offer. In 1989, after the Hillsborough disaster, in the United Kingdom, where over 90 people died due to, along with other factors, a lack of police resources, the country’s police organisation demanded resources to address the security needs of professional football matches. The 1996 police law established English clubs’ obligation to pay a rate for police services.

The amount of the rate has been a permanent source of controversy. Last November, London’s Metropolitan Police published the annual cost of Police expenses related to security at football matches, over 12 million pounds, denouncing the fact that the city’s clubs only contributed a small amount.

In Catalonia, four years ago, a rate was approved for the Generalitat Police force− Mossos d’Esquadra, although this exclusively applied to high-risk matches.

These amounts tend to lead to a response involving legal challenges in courtrooms.[1] In Germany, in the middle of February 2018, the higher court of the City State of de Bremen maintained the rate established by the government for high-risk matches. Specifically, the rate for the match between Werder Bremen and HSV Hamburg in August 2015 was discussed. The land’s Police force used 969 officers in order to guarantee the security of both clubs’ supporters. The upper court argued that the police forces of the länder are obliged to maintain the security of their respective territories, also at football matches and other types of events involving large concentrations of people. In order to be able to address this obligation, the corresponding rates to finance such services must be established so that the necessary resources are provided. Authorities can decide whether there are people who are particularly responsible for risks generated by their activities when, furthermore, these generate significant economic revenue, as in the case of football clubs, and consider that the rate is proportional as it is calculated in accordance with the number of police officers on duty.

[1] In Catalonia, FC Barcelona has legally challenged the application procedure applied for such a rate.

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