The numbers are compelling. Last year there were four safety infractions of those classified as very serious in the Spanish stadiums. Very far from the 150 that occurred in the 2014/15 season, as reflected in the Report of the State Commission against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport. In that category enters the worst that can happen in an enclosure: violent acts with dead or wounded, launching flares with personal injuries, violating the prohibition of access to the fields … They have also managed to stop the fights between violent groups or aggressions of these to other fans. If in 2015/16 there were 30 of these incidents in LaLiga Santander, LaLiga 1 | 2 | 3 and Copa del Rey, last year this figure was reduced to 17, practically half.
The change has been radical and has happened in just four years. Football stadiums have become safer areas thanks in particular to the measures promoted by legislators and LaLiga. There is a tighter control of the violent, all clubs have a mandatory security director, security technology has been sophisticated and surveillance and complaints have increased.
Fernando Bernal is the security director of Sevilla FC since 2015. He was previously an officer of the Police Intervention Unit, which is responsible for ensuring security and public order in most of the matches. His vision of what has happened is, therefore, twofold: "The professionalism and coordination of the public and private security forces in these great devices is unparalleled in Europe. All thanks to legislation that starts with Law 19/2007 and that continues to improve. In addition, I believe that the pedagogical and awareness work that has been done in this country has been very important. The amateur mentality has changed a lot in a very short time. "
Coincides Juan Carlos Privado, security coordinator of the Integrity and Security area of LaLiga, which also points to a turning point in the fight against violence in football: "It was the death of Francisco Javier Romero, the Deportivo de La Coruña fan known as Jimmy, the one that caused the definitive commitment of clubs and institutions and the creation of a strategic plan that has paid off. " It was in November 2014. Since then, the transformation has taken place in five main axes, as both experts point out. These are the pillars of change:
All clubs have security directors obliged to exchange information
Each club has a security director, who must also be the same person throughout the season, except in exceptional cases. Those responsible are required to communicate with each other before the game of their teams to exchange information. In addition, they are responsible for establishing the private security devices for each clash in permanent contact with the other key figure: the security coordinator, who is the police commander in charge at each event.
"The usual thing is that there are two formal communications for each party, which are produced by telephone and written, and many other informal as the meeting approaches," develops Fernando Bernal. The visiting club gives the premises some forms indicating how many tickets have been sold that have been made available to foreign fans, how they will travel and stay with the team and their fans and, if necessary, which groups can pose a threat This information is added to the rest of calculations (importance of the match, rivalry between the teams, anticipation of affluence to the field …) to assess the level of risk of the game, and from there, the model of security device to be established by the police authorities and the club.
"In the case of Sánchez Pizjuán [un estadio de casi 45.000 espectadores que casi siempre se acerca al lleno], we usually have 240 private security guards supported by 110 security assistants in a party of normal risk. " Before, communication was not regulated. The security directors of the clubs, if they existed, did not have to know each other. Now even periodic meetings are held between them and the police forces to improve the protocols.
Violent identified and off the stands. 150 individuals can not step on a stadium in Spain
Violent groups are identified and more controlled. The visiting fans now have nominative tickets. To access the area of the reserved stadium and especially bounded for them, fans must present their ID or passport, and that this coincides with what is read in the entry. The clubs of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga 1 | 2 | 3 have expelled, cornered or minimized their more radical groups so that they do not pose a problem. "Many have replaced them with animation stands, which also access the stadium through biometric control, with their fingerprints", underlines Juan Carlos Privado. If a fan incurs violent acts inside or outside the stadium, he is exposed to being banned from any sporting event. "In our stadium they are prohibited from entering between 10 and 15 people approximately," says Bernal. The figure is around 150 people in the two categories of Spanish professional football.
Organized ultras are pursued with greater interest than before. Last May a pioneering sentence opened a new path. Eleven members of Indar Gorri, a radical group linked to Osasuna, were convicted of criminal association and conspiracy to commit the crime of injury. A new step to dismantle these groups, but not the only one: "The elimination of their symbolism of stadiums has also had a very positive effect. Not only because it nullifies in some way their sense of belonging and the display of radical elements, but because it takes away their publicity. And if they do not know their brands, nobody will buy their products, which is one of their main lines of financing ", highlights Juan Carlos Privado.
Greater vigilance in stadiums with cutting-edge technology. 4K to identify and access biometrics
"We record in audio and video everything that happens in the stands with high resolution cameras [4K]. The offensive chants are also recorded thanks to the images of the sports broadcast, which can be exposed as evidence before the authorities ", says Juan Carlos Privado. The accesses to the stadiums also have cameras. In this way, the aggressor of a Metropolitan Wanda security guard (who lost an eye as a result of the wounds) was identified and detained in a few days at the end of 2017. "Metal detection systems, cameras, investment in training and hiring personnel … We have evolved a lot in a very short time. Our stadiums are much better equipped than those of our environment, "says Fernando Bernal of Sevilla FC, a pioneer club in the use of dogs for the detection of explosives or pyrotechnic materials such as flares. The sevillista club's security officer points out that thanks to these measures Pizjuán has not experienced any episode of physical violence, throwing objects or using flares in the four years he has been in office. In all of last season, only one episode was reported with flares and ten of throwing objects in all LaLiga matches.
"Technological innovation, for obvious reasons, is the main line of progress for the coming years, since in Spain all the work of legislation, training and awareness has been on the right track for some time," Bernal analyzes. Biometrics controls, for the time being, access to the animation stands, but in the future its use will be generalized. "The idea of Sevilla FC is that what serves for a part of the stands serves the entire stadium. We want to install biometric access throughout the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, remodeling all the access and exit doors to ensure that in the short or medium term all the public has this possibility. " The project is already underway, but the club has not yet decided whether the identification will be fingerprint or facial. LaLiga is already safe, and it will be more and more.
Judicial proceedings against the violent. LaLiga present as private accusation
LaLiga presented last season 75 complaints to the Anti-Violence Commission and the Competition Committee, 51 of them for offensive chants registered in the stadiums. Radical chants are systematically denounced with the greatest precision. LaLiga, with the help of the party director, is in charge of exhaustively detecting behaviors related to violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance that occur during a football match.
This is a real example of the type of complaint that is usually accompanied by documentary evidence: "In the 7th minute of the match, some 500 local fans sang in chorus and coordinated for approximately 12 seconds, the song" XXXX bastard. " Insults, incitements to violence, racism or homophobia are pursued; directed against players, coaches, referees or rival hobbies.
LaLiga is also presented as a private accusation in some criminal cases, such as the death of Jimmy himself, so that in certain cases the judicial process can take place. He has also appeared in the case of the brawl that occurred in 2016 between the radical groups of Getafe and Zaragoza in the vicinity of the Alfonso Pérez Coliseum. Or in the complaint against a fan of Real Oviedo for assaulting a security guard at the gates of Carlos Tartiere on April 20. The event, also in this case, was captured by the stadium cameras.
The pedagogical work. Encouraging the team does not mean insulting the opponent
The offensive chants have become badly received by much of the stands. The stadiums remember with megaphones or from their video scoreboards that encouraging a team does not mean insulting the opponent. Institutions and clubs promote a healthy hobby for football and twinships between clubs from United Hobbies. LaLiga sends season after season informative documents for all teams with rules and recommendations. They recommend the implementation of "institutional campaigns of rejection of any type of violence" and "preventive measures", such as the issuance of messages prior to the meeting or the organization of acts of fraternization with rival clubs.
The teams and institutions that surround Spanish sport are the first ones interested in ending physical and verbal violence. "One of the main ways to end this scourge in the medium or long term is awareness and pedagogy. Seville has already been six years with the Cordiality campaign, which through banners, videos, events or actions on social networks promotes tolerance and respect in football, "says Fernando Bernal, who says that the pedagogical work is" probably the harder to make, but the one that has caused the greatest changes ".