Football related offences
The Football (Offences) Act 1991 introduced a number of related offences which can only occur at football matches. These offences relate to the conduct of fans at the ground. However these offences are limited to incidents which occur 2 hours before the start of the game and end 1 hour after the game has finished.
These offences include:
Going onto the playing area
It is an offence for someone to enter the playing area, or the area around the pitch, at a Football match. However there is a defence if a person can prove that they were acting with lawful authority or had a lawful excuse.
Throwing of missiles
It is an offence for someone to throw anything towards the pitch or the area around the pitch. The law does not specify what items the law relates to and therefore any item thrown on to the pitch is included in this offence. Therefore this offence includes throwing items such as cups, bottles, coins or more obscure items such as inflatable snakes!
It is also an offence to throw anything towards any area of the ground in which other people are present.
There is a defence to this offence but it must be shown that the person throwing the item had lawful authority or reasonable excuse.
Football Chanting Offences
The Act specifically prevents chanting which is racialist or indecent.
To be guilty of the offence it must be shown that the person has been chanting by the repeated uttering of words or sounds and the words were indecent or racist. Importantly this offence can be committed when someone is acting alone.
Racist chanting is defined as including something which is threatening, abusive or insulting to a person as a result of their colour, race, nationality, or their ethnic or national origins.
Offences under The Football (Offences) Act 1991 can only dealt with in a Magistrates’ Court. The maximum sentence that can impose for an offence under the Football (Offences) Act 1991 is a fine of up to £1000.
If convicted of one of these offences the Court must impose a Football Banning Order if they think there are reasonable grounds to believe that imposing such an Order would help to prevent violence or disorder at football matches.
How can we Help?
If you are arrested for football related offences, asked for a voluntary interview with the Police, charged or summons to court in relation any of the above matters please contact one of our football law specialists in order to assist you using the following form.