The ongoing pandemic-related situation is forcing global lifestyle changes. This also applies to sport, where people have also had to change their habits. In the case of football, the pandemic has given rise to a series of protocols, recommendations and good practices designed to keep fans and other members of the public safe.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the police were already keeping track of radical fans to prevent these groups from engaging in violent and criminal behaviour. For example, ticket touting and scalping, drug trafficking and race-based hate crimes and xenophobia.
AMERIPOL and La Liga entered into an agreement in April 2019 to coordinate their security work at football events in the AMERIPOL countries.
In light of the situation and based on their agreement, the EL PAcCTO project is supporting AMERIPOL, which has European funding and is managed by FIIAPP and by Expertise France, by organising a videoconference on good practices and protocols when resuming sporting events in the context of COVID-19. A total of 200 people took part in the event, organised in collaboration with the Executive Secretariat of AMERIPOL and la Liga. These included police organisations from Latin America, Ministries of Public Security and EUROPOL.
The panellists shared ways in which police forces and La Liga can take action together, especially regarding links between violent fan groups and organised crime. The Vice Minister of Public Security of Argentina, Mr Eduardo Villalba, and the president of AMERIPOL, Mr Andrés Severino, who attended the official opening, referred to the agreement signed in 2019 as an important cooperation tool that will allow police forces to share expertise to keep people safe during soccer matches, and on some aspects of crowd control.
In addition, the head of unit for Latin America and the Caribbean of the European Union, Jorge de la Caballería, emphasised the importance of regional police cooperation, since all countries face common challenges. The president of La Liga acknowledged that 2020 has been a difficult year for football worldwide, while underlining the importance of this sport, not only as entertainment but also as an economic and financial engine.
The European Union is committed to providing funds to build regional networks for police cooperation and strengthening the existing institutional architecture by acting as a close ally of AMERIPOL in the fight against organised crime.