Safe standing: European regulations told short

source: StadiumDB.com

Safe standing: European regulations told short Football Supporters Europe launched an internal survey among its members to establish, what rules apply around Europe concerning standing, seating and standing in seated areas. Seems simple to you? Well, it's not that simple in various countries.

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When England started enforcing the all-seater rule in early 1990s, expectations were that supporters will get used to seating and eventually choose to do so. However, after 20 years since the Taylor Report was published, fans all over Europe are far from unanimous on the matter.

The case seems as simple as can be (just stand up or sit down, all there is to it), but if so, why are countries across Europe establishing more and more institutional solutions to the matter? It may be because one standing person may cause all those behind him to stand up, even if they don't want to. Comfort should not be obstructed, one would agree, especially with some season tickets in Europe priced at hundreds of Euros. But what if entire sections prefer to stand? Regulations often impose sitting on them, sometimes even at the risk of eviction or arrest, fine and stadium ban in cases of disobedience.

Football Supporters Europe, the only pan-European federation of football fans and their associations, ran a survey among members from various countries across the continent to get to know more on the matter. Some of the results you may see below, listed on the map and described beneath it (and, of course, in the official PDF). For full size of the map please visit our facebook account. Please note, this survey was focused on highest leagues in each country as the lower ones have more loose approach to the matter. It is also simplified, as the case is much more complex in various countries.

European Standing Map

Stand if you want

Most countries that were covered by the survey, provide sanding room for fans in portions of the stadiums, though the extent varies strongly between one-another. On one hand, there are countries where modest resources prevent extensive redevelopment and conversion to all-seater as a standard solution (like Bosnia and Herzegovina or Slovakia).

But there are also states which have this solved institutionally, like Germany or Norway, having a minimum percentage of terracing that needs to be provided by match organisers. Other countries, like France and the Netherlands for example, allow standing room to be created, but don't have it enforced. In practice this leads to many stadiums not having a place for fans who wish to stand throughout the game.

Here's your seat, but stand if you wish

Several countries across the continent have the all-seater rule introduced, but still fans are allowed to choose whether they want to take their seat or stand next to it. Ukraine, Russia, Croatia or the Iberian Peninsula have that rule in common, even at games of the most popular and commercialised clubs.

Of course whenever standing appears in sections where most people prefer to sit, those standing may be forced to ignore their personal preferences or change their spot at the stadium, but what is important is that the rule of obligatory sitting is not enforced by law.

Got a seat? Sing or sit down

Two countries in Europe have a policy of 'limited tolerance' for standing despite having the ban on 'persistent standing' introduced. This applies to Italian Serie A and Polish Ekstraklasa. In both these countries standing is accepted as long as it's limited to some sections of the stadium – the stands for most vocal supporters and (by practice) away sections.

However, standing in other parts of the stadiums may involve quite severe consequences. According to new legislation introduced in Poland before Euro 2012, fans may no longer stand in seated areas (apart from those mentioned above) or else they may be rebuked by stewards. If disobeying a steward's command, one commits a crime and may end up arrested and banned from the stadium for even a few years, also having to pay a hefty fine of some €500 and even spending a night under arrest. This thankfully isn't applied and is limited only to people behaving aggressively or breaching more regulations.

Got a seat? Than sit!

Lastly, we have England and Scotland, where standing anywhere inside both Premier Leagues' stadia is prohibited. However, Scotland is currently allowing for first standing sections to be tested inside the grounds. Once they are in place, standing may be available again, but until then, standing in seated areas is still a violation.

Of course in both these cases exceptions apply. This time not ones set institutionally, but accepted as a result of high number of people disobeying. In most stadia of the two leagues one can find sections where fans regularly stand throughout the game and their numbers are high enough to oppose the implementation of ground regulations...

All the above is of course only a very brief attempt to present how numerous different rules are applied all over Europe. Please note, that due to the differences in law, execution and fan behaviour in all these countries, the case of allowing or banning standing inside stadiums is much more complex.

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