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Brazil govt acts to safeguard fans

Brasilia: Brazil’s Congress has approved a bill aimed at providing better conditions for football supporters who currently have to brave violence, decrepit stadiums and chaotic ticket sales to follow their teams.

The bill, known as the ‘Supporters Statute’, will force clubs to publicise attendances and gate receipts at every match, announce how many people were allowed to watch without paying and to provide safe and well-organised stadiums with clean toilets.

It also obliges match organisers to put tickets on sale at least 72 hours before kick-off, while federations will have to announce match dates and times in advance and make sure the information is widely publicised.

Another measure is the appointment of ombudsmen, who will be responsible for hearing complaints from supporters.

The bill was passed by the Senate, the upper house of Congress, Wednesday and will now be sent to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for his approval. Although covering all sports, the bill is principally aimed at soccer, which is notorious in Brazil for being poorly organised.

Many stadiums, including the world famous Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, are in complete disrepair and supporters are forced to scramble and push for hours to buy tickets for big matches, while touts are allowed to operate with impunity. Attendances are rarely publicised and kick-off times are often changed at the last minute without the public being told.

In one of the most serious recent incidents, the final of the 2000 Brazilian championship between Vasco da Gama and Sao Caetano was abandoned after a fence collapsed at the Sao Januario under a crush of fans. More than 50 people were injured and witnesses said the stadium was filled beyond capacity at the time.

The ‘Supporters Statute’ is one of two bills which have been produced by Congress in response to two Congressional commissions of inquiry into alleged mismanagement and corruption in Brazilian football.

Earlier this month, Congress also passed the so-called ‘Clean Up Football Bill’ forcing soccer clubs and federations to publish their accounts annually. (Reuters)

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