Parliament Approves Soccer Fans' ID Cards

From Reuters

The British Parliament passed controversial anti-hooligan laws Monday that will require English soccer fans to carry identity cards to enter stadiums.

The scheme, fiercely opposed by soccer clubs, which fear that it could cut attendance, was proposed by the government to tackle the violence that has led to English clubs being banned from European soccer competitions.

The Football Spectators Bill was passed 273 to 204 late Monday night after an angry debate. It must be ratified by the House of Lords and is expected to become law early next year.

"Hooliganism has been an ugly scar on the face of football for a number of years," Environment Secretary Chris Patten told Parliament.

Opposition Labor Party environment spokesman John Cunningham rejected the bill as ineffectual. "The problem is no longer inside the grounds. The identity scheme isn't going to stop people causing problems in town or city centers and on boats," he said.

Under the plan, people who attend games of the 92 English Football League clubs will have to use computer-read cards to pass through turnstiles. Troublemakers will have their cards taken away and be refused entry to any ground.

Sports Minister Colin Moynihan has said he will not support a return to European competition for English clubs until the new scheme is successfully introduced.

English clubs were banned from Europe after Liverpool supporters rioted at the 1985 European Cup Final against Juventus at Brussels' Heysel Stadium. Thirty-nine Italians were killed when a wall collapsed on them.

BACKGROUND English clubs were banned from Europe after Liverpool supporters rioted at the 1985 European Cup Final against Juventus at Brussels' Heysel Stadium. Thirty-nine Italians were killed when a wall collapsed on them.

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