Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cameras and Legal Measures Can Help Curb Fan Violence, British Prof Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cameras and Legal Measures Can Help Curb Fan Violence, British Prof Says

Article excerpt

Banning booze isn't answer to fan violence, says prof


TORONTO - Banning or limiting alcohol sales isn't likely to reduce rowdy fan behaviour at large sporting events, a British professor who has researched hooliganism said Friday in the wake of a beer can-tossing incident during a Toronto Blue Jays playoff game earlier this week.

"There's no evidence it's reduced drunkenness," said Geoff Pearson, an expert in soccer crowd behaviour and policing who works at the University of Manchester. "And there is evidence it may actually increase drunkenness because people will drink more before they go in."

Pearson said there are several other measures, many already in place in Canada, that are more effective at curbing bad behaviour. Violence among soccer fans has been a problem in Britain for decades, but significant steps aimed at reducing that violence were taken in the late 1990s, said Pearson.

"The first change was legal: certain activities were classified as being a criminal offence such as throwing an object at a (soccer) stadium," Pearson said.

That is also a criminal offence in Canada, as seen this week after Toronto police charged Ken Pagan, 41, of Hamilton, with criminal mischief.

Police allege he is the fan who threw a can of beer that narrowly missed Baltimore Orioles player Hyun Soo Kim as he made a catch during the seventh inning of Tuesday's wild-card game at the Rogers Centre.

Pagan, in an email to The Canadian Press on Wednesday night, identified himself as the man in the police photo and his lawyer told reporters his client was going to wait until court to have his say.

Pearson said it also became a criminal offence in Britain to drink alcohol within sight of the field, which has led to a significant decrease in "missile throwing" since bottles aren't allowed in the stands.

The Blue Jays said in a statement Wednesday the team will "enact heightened security measures and alcohol policies that will ensure the fan experience and safety of everybody involved."

As of Friday, the team hadn't released any specific details about what those security measures and alcohol policies will be as Game 3 of the American League Championship Series goes Sunday night with the Jays leading the Texas Rangers 2-0 in the best-of-five series. …

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