Germany unveils tough new anti-hooligan measures

Police and sports authorities in Germany on Tuesday decided to ban troublemakers from football grounds for up to 10 years if they are found guilty of violence.

The decision follows a meeting of representatives of 54 professional clubs and the federal and regional interior ministries in Berlin after a series of football-related violence last season.

"A considerable reinforcement in the severity of stadium bans is expected and will increase from three years currently to five and even 10 years for the most serious cases," the participants said in a joint statement.

Several serious incidents occurred last season, notably at the end of a match in mid-May between second division Karlsruhe and third division Ratisbon, which left 75 people injured, including 18 police.

The head of the German football federation Wolfgang Niersbach said of the move: "It's an important step that clubs are sticking together.

"The measures taken are a necessary and urgent sign showing that everyone is fulfilling its responsibilities and committing to improving security."

The meeting also decided to keep standing terraces, banned in a number of countries, assessing that they "were an integral part of the culture of German football supporters".

Firecrackers will on the other hand remain banned and clubs will be able to take action against organised groups of supporters, such as revising reserved ticket allocations if the rules are not respected.

Football clubs will meanwhile increase by 50 percent the amount they pay for security in stadiums to alleviate pressure on the finances of local authorities.

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