MPs outline British stadium safety investigation

MPs are to investigate safety at major sporting events in the UK in the wake of the concerning scenes at football finals in the last 12 months.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has announced plans for its ‘Inquiry: Safety at major sporting events’ following last year’s UEFA Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium and the recent UEFA Champions League final in Paris.

The inquiry will consider whether crowd management policies at stadiums in the UK are sufficient to maintain spectator safety and what steps can be taken to protect British supporters at major events abroad. The committee will also examine the effectiveness of legislation concerning football, including the issues of safe standing and alcohol consumption at matches, and whether there need to be changes to regulations governing fans at matches.

Julian Knight MP, the chair of the DCMS Committee, said: “We saw most recently at the Champions League final in Paris how the actions of the authorities and their dangerously misguided decisions on crowd control can put the lives of innocent football fans at risk.

“In this country, the chaotic scenes at Wembley 12 months ago show what can happen when those responsible for keeping people safe are caught flat footed by the scale of an occasion, with a lack of preparation and foresight allowing a small minority of people to put supporters under threat.

“With several sporting showcases coming up here and further afield and possible legislative changes following the football fan-led review, it is imperative that lessons are learnt from these past failings to avert even more serious outcomes for spectators.

“The committee’s inquiry will make sure that the right steps are being taken, so these occasions are spectacles for the right reasons and attending is a safe and enjoyable experience for all.”

The committee will accept evidence regarding stadium safety until September 8, 2022.

An independent review into the circumstances of the Euro 2020 final at Wembley in July 2021 found that around 2,000 people gained access to the game illegally.

The review, led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock, described “appalling scenes of disorder” which marred the Euro 2020 final came “perilously close to putting lives at risk”. English Football Association CEO Mark Bullingham apologised for the “terrible experience” many suffered within Wembley after the review was published in December 2021.

England also had to play a recent game behind doors after UEFA issued a stadium ban in the wake of the final between England and Italy on July 11, 2021.

Image: Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash