Parliamentary Leadership

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Address of the President of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Trajko Veljanoski, at the International Conference on Prevention and Suppression of Violence on the Football Stadiums

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished Members of Parliament, Ministers, Excellencies,
Distinguished Representatives of the Football Federation, 
Distinguished friends of sport, especially football, 

There is a saying that football is the most important unimportant thing in the world. As much as this saying is an old adage that sounds overused, it is still topical, if we have in mind the economic and socio-political dimension of football as sport. 

Namely, football on global level, according to the number of players and clubs, is one of the most important mass sports. Furthermore, football is a very profitable industry with massive turnover, and here I refer not only to the transfer of players, but also to everything else associated with this sport.

Regarding the social dimension of football, it is certainly multilayered. Football today, according to the number of fans, is the most popular sport in the world. Also, many young people see football as their only opportunity for economic and social existence and progress. Football is the reason for socializing, debates, and if I remember well football was the reason for a small local war between two countries in Latin America. But this is something for the experts in the field of sociology of sports.

Violence and hooliganism in football and in sports in general appeared during the 60’s.  In the beginning, violence occurred among the fans on the stands, but during the 70’s this violence occurred on the streets, before and after the football matches. Of concern is the fact that violence during sport events quickly became a global event, and today it is present in every country in the world. 

The epilogue is not only destroyed property, but often lost lives. 

This is why today the world pays great attention to this problem. I would like to remind you that the in 1985 Council of Europe adopted the Convention on Spectator Violence. The European Union has also adopted several directives regarding hooliganism and violence in sport.

Violence during sport events is present in our country too. If we look at this from the legal point of view, the Republic of Macedonia has a good system of sanctions for violence during sport events. Namely, we have the so-called Lex Specialis, and that is the Law on Prevention of Violence and Indecent Behaviour during Sport Events, adopted in 2004. This matter is covered also with the Criminal Code, the Law on Misdemeanour, etc. You are the people that should inform us if this legislation needs to be amended. Certainly, as President of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, I would like to convince you that, regardless of our political affiliation, we are prepared to adopt any proposals regarding this issue in the shortest period of time

On the other hand, as a lawyer who has been part of the three branches of authority - judiciary, executive and now, in the legislature, I would like to emphasize the role and importance of prevention against violence, which is more important than the legal sanctions. Prevention, especially when it comes to this kind of violence, requires interdisciplinary approach - inclusion of experts and institutions from many areas: sociology, psychology, the legal profession etc, as well as inter-department coordination. It must include the sport organizations, sport clubs, the competent ministries - such as the Ministry of Interior and others, but also the local self-government and the NGO sector. I would especially like to emphasise the role of the educational system from pre-school education up to university level. Of course, the families and the parents also have a responsibility, since this kind of violence includes young people - our children. 

Unfortunately, violence has always been present and it can never be completely eradicated, but I believe that with systematic and efficient prevention we can reduce violence and its consequences to minimum.

We all know the old Latin saying - a sound mind in a sound body. Let us not allow, as society and as a country but also on global level, to lose the sound spirit of the young, who are participants in violence during sport events because of various reasons. I believe that your Conference, with participants from several fields and institutions, will give answers to many questions connected with prevention of violence. This is why, at the end, I would like to once again wish you successful work.

Thank you.


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