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France unveils anti-hooligan police unit

France’s Interior Ministry on Wednesday set up a new police group to tackle hooliganism after a stormy start to the soccer season.

The announcement creating the “national division to fight hooliganism” came a week after the ministry unveiled new measures to try to stamp out violence at football grounds.

The new group was tasked with “improving coordination of intelligence capabilities between security officials on the ground, improving identification of high risk individuals” to help detain and prosecute offenders, the ministry said.

Last week’s measures included increased police surveillance of high-risk groups, stricter ground bans for violent individuals, clubs taking systematic legal action against trouble-makers and points reductions for teams whose supporters were involved in violence at matches.

The crackdown follows trouble at several grounds forcing referees to take players off.

Parliamentary legislation is expected shortly to back up the measures, including a ban on smoke bombs and fireworks inside grounds and an increase in the length of ground exclusions from the current three months to six.

Wed 30 September, 2009
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