Turkey tries to tackle hooliganism with new law
Turkey's parliament has approved legislation aimed at stemming hooliganism at football matches and other competitions.
The legislation, passed late Thursday, introduces up to six years in prison for fans who dismantle seats, two years in prison for fans who chant racial slurs and obscenities in or around stadiums and one-year prison terms for spectators who attempt to bring guns, sharp objects or flares to sports events.
The legislation was pushed by the Turkish Football Federation, which has vowed to adopt zero tolerance toward hooliganism. The Turkish football league is frequently marred by crowd trouble, with fans lighting up flares, throwing objects and yelling obscenities to taunt opposition teams and referees.
In the latest example of unruly crowd behavior, spectators threw a lighter at Austria goalkeeper Juergen Macho during a 2012 European Championship qualifier in Istanbul on Tuesday. He was not injured.
A large glass bottle was also thrown on the field during a derby between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray in Istanbul on March 18.
With the new legislation, fans can only purchase electronic tickets using government ID numbers, making it easier to track and punish troublemakers.
Fans deemed to be drunk or under the influence of drugs will be refused entry to events, while anyone involved in hooliganism will be barred from competitions for a year.
In a bid to tackle match-fixing, individuals caught bribing players or paying fees to teams as incentives face a maximum 12 years in prison.
Turkey is at the center of a European match-fixing scandal, currently under investigation by police in Germany, in which 270 matches in at least nine domestic leagues and international competitions are under suspicion.
In 2000, two fans of English club Leeds were stabbed to death in Istanbul, ruining Turkey's reputation internationally.