Belfast Telegraph

New laws cover sports fan behaviour

Laws to improve spectator behaviour at major sporting events have come into force.

Offences for indecent or sectarian chanting and pitch invasion have been imposed to create a more welcoming and family-friendly environment at games.

Throwing missiles on to a pitch and the possession of alcohol on hired transport on the way to major events are also outlawed under the Justice Act.

Justice Minister David Ford said: "These new laws demonstrate my commitment to make sporting events more family-friendly.

"The three sporting associations - rugby, football and the GAA - have invested a great deal in making their major sporting events memorable for all the right reasons.

"However, there still can be times when the actions of a few can spoil it for the majority of fans and this new legislation allows the law to deal with those individuals."

The offence of throwing an article capable of causing injury; indecent or sectarian chanting or going on to the playing area can attract a fine of up to £1,000.

The offence of possessing fireworks or flares at a match can attract a sentence of imprisonment of up to three months and possessing alcohol on private hire vehicles on the way to sporting events can attract a sentence of imprisonment of up to three months. The private vehicle operator can also be fined up to £2,500 for permitting alcohol onto the vehicle.

The Justice Minister thanked the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, sporting associations and Sport NI for their support in the drafting of the legislation.

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