ZURICH (Reuters) – Supporters’ groups from around Europe have urged UEFA to lift what they describe as an “outdated” ban on standing areas at Champions League and Europa League matches.
In an open letter to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, the fans pointed out that the ban was “absurd” as many supporters stood anyway regardless of whether they are allowed to or not. UEFA could not immediately be reached for comment.
Both UEFA and the global soccer body FIFA ban standing fans in their competitions, as does the English Premier League, but they are permitted in some other leagues, most notably Germany’s Bundesliga.
The letter, part of a campaign called “Europe wants to stand”, pointed out that the standing ban at UEFA matches was introduced in 1988 as a “quick solution” following several disasters in European stadia.
The letter said that “long-term evaluations have concluded that the existence of standing sections was not the cause of these tragedies.”
It said that 100,000 fans stand every week in Germany’s Bundesliga showing that “it is possible to provide standing sections without safety or security risks at football matches.”
The letter added that it was absurd that seats had to be installed for UEFA competitions at great cost “even though fans end up standing on or between seats any way.”
Similarly, in England’s all-seater stadiums, it said that “thousands of fans stand in areas not specifically designed for standing.”
The letter said that all-seater stadiums meant higher ticket prices and “the exclusion of young and low-income fans, which should neither be underestimated nor ignored by UEFA.”
Scotland, France and the Netherlands had recently lifted strict standing bans and other countries were considering following suit, it said.
“Fan-friendly arrangements at local or national level should not be blocked by UEFA requirements, which are based on outdated evidence,” it added.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)