Maud de Boer-Buquicchio
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Opening of the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee of the
European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches
Wednesday 7 December 2011 at 9.30am, Room 3
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Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you all to the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee of the European Convention against spectator violence.
As you know, Brazil has recently asked to join the Convention as an observer and I should especially like to welcome the Brazilian delegation which is also with us today.
Brazil will be organising the forthcoming FIFA 2014 World Cup.
And, in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the Summer Olympics.
With this high-visibility sports agenda in mind, Brazil's accession to the Convention is particularly important. By sharing the work of the Standing Committee, our Brazilian colleagues will have the opportunity to become more familiar with the European standards applicable in the field of spectator safety and security, to the benefit of the many fans who will visit Brazil on the occasion of these major sporting events.
I also hope that we can share experience and learn from good practices in Brazil, and that the Brazilian people will benefit from their country's participation in the work of the Standing Committee. I note that, after Argentina and Canada, Brazil is the 3rd State of the Americas to join the Convention as an observer. At a time of globalisation and the growing internationalisation of sports events, it is significant that the European Convention on spectator violence can serve as a source of inspiration beyond our European borders for the exchange of good practices, which is an important step in securing good conditions for hosting fans from all over the world and ensuring their safety and security.
The recent accession of Brazil also indicates that, 25 years after its establishment, the European Convention against spectator violence remains an important reference point for countries even beyond Europe.
In recent months, the French and the Serbian Ministers of Sport and the UEFA President visited the Council of Europe. In our meetings, they expressed their satisfaction with the work of your Standing Committee over the past 25 years, and said that they saw room for developing the Convention further, in particular as regards the monitoring aspects.
This is why I asked the Secretariat to take action in this regard.
A questionnaire was sent to your delegations and the summary of your responses will be discussed at this meeting. Following this, your Bureau has prepared a document identifying a number of avenues to be explored in order to enhance the impact of your work.
I am pleased to see the spirit of dynamism that animates your work. The conclusions of the Standing Committee will be considered at the next meeting of the Council of Europe's Ministers responsible for Sport to be held in Belgrade on 15 March 2012, and a number of political resolutions will be taken on this occasion.
It is important to ensure that institutions like ours can count on our member States to fully implement the provisions of the Convention, and in order to do this a solid institutional and policy framework is essential.
I am pleased that, in a context of reform and economic crisis, UEFA, based on the results of two recent consultative visits to Poland and Ukraine, has offered to fund a co-operation and technical assistance project to help these countries establish mechanisms that would meet the applicable European standards in the field of spectator safety.
I would like to thank UEFA, through its Director of Stadium and Security, Mr Marc Timmer, for its support.
This project is an important innovation in the practice of the Standing Committee and, with only a few months to go before the start of EURO 2012, is especially timely.
I would like to finish with a few words about the other work underway in the Council of Europe to protect the integrity of sport. As you know, the Council of Europe’s anti-doping Convention, supported by the very active work of the CAHAMA group, allows Europe to make a co-ordinated and significant contribution to the global fight against doping in sport within the WADA forum, and we are currently preparing to participate actively in the revision of the WADA Code.
A second area in which interest is growing among our member States is that of match-fixing and illegal betting in sport. Our Committee of Ministers adopted in September a Recommendation which will now lead to a feasibility study on the possible preparation of a legal instrument in this field.
Yesterday, I attended a hearing of our Parliamentary Assembly on this and other issues with a bearing on ethics in sport, such as the migration of young sportswomen and men, and good governance and the fight against corruption, particularly among sports clubs and federations.
These topics all have a specialised focus, such as your own, but share the objective of preserving the integrity of sport. They are interlinked, because weaknesses in the rule of law and ethical standards in one of these fields will inevitably increase the risk of a similar lowering of vigilance and standards in the others.
Sport plays an increasingly visible role in today’s societies, and should be a source of pleasure, inspiration and motivation to people of all countries and ages. We should ensure that this exemplarity is safeguarded from the threats which are increasingly present in the globalised, high-capital sports worlds of today.
Your work contributes directly to this endeavour. We should all bear in mind that the European Convention against Spectator Violence was developed in the aftermath of the Heysel disaster and the widespread hooliganism that prevailed in Europe in the 1980s. Through the Convention, we can work together, also across continents, to ensure that such disasters do not happen again. I thank you for your commitment to this goal.