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UEFA lifts Champions and Europa League alcohol ban

UEFA has lifted an alcohol ban that had been in place at all Champions League and Europa League matches, meaning that fans will be able to buy alcohol at stadiums from next season.

Happy group of Latin American friends watching a football game and making a toast at a sports bar

At an executive committee meeting last month, the governing body amended its rules meaning that alcohol will now be permitted at match venues where local and national laws allow.

Previously, UEFA had forbidden the sale of any alcoholic drinks inside stadiums prior to and during Champions League and Europa League games.

Article 36 of its Safety and Security Regulations has been changed to read: “The match organiser may only sell or distribute alcohol within the stadium or its private environs … within the limits permitted under the national and local law as applicable from time to time.”

Fans will now be able to buy alcohol at stadiums and drink in the stands throughout the majority of European matches. However at matches in England, fans will only be allowed to consume alcohol in the wider stadium, not the stands.

Ronan Evain, chief executive of the Football Supporters Europe (FSE), which has long been arguing against the ban, has welcomed the change.

In a statement issued on behalf of the FSE, Evain said: “For a long time football supporters have felt unfairly treated in comparison with fans of other sports like rugby, to say the least. 

“It is not the sport you follow which makes you behave better or worse. Furthermore, the alcohol ban did not apply to VIP areas at football matches, causing a two-class society even within the stadia.

“Supporters felt that the alcohol banning policy was paternalistic, as there is absolutely no evidence or research to suggest that banning alcohol in a stadium has any bearing whatsoever on preventing or curtailing football-related disorder in and around it.”

Evain also noted evidence to suggest that selling alcohol in stadiums can bring further benefits. In 2010, researchers Geoff Pearson and Arianna Sale of the Universities of Liverpool and Milan stated that “alcohol restrictions are ineffective at reducing the level of drunkenness amongst fans” and public authorities “need to revisit the use by police and football authorities of alcohol controls to reduce crowd disorder and look to other methods of reducing the problem of football hooliganism.”

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