Over one thousand Britons are banned from attending the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar due to violent history.
More than 1,300 “violent and abusive” football supporters in England and Wales will be prohibited from traveling to the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar following a season marred by an increase in disorder.
Taking effect this Friday, the regulations will restrict 1,308 people with a history of football-related violence or disorder from leaving the country or traveling to nearby nations where they could commute to the games.
The Home Office issued a statement saying that it has taken a number of steps in response to the recent unrest and that anyone who tries to travel to Qatar while on the banned list would be subject to a six-month prison sentence and an unlimited fine.
Starting 10 days before the World Cup kicks off on 20 November until the tournament’s conclusion, supporters who have been barred from watching football in England and Wales, as well as anyone who has “previously caused trouble and is deemed likely to do so again,” will not be allowed to enter the region.
“We will not let the behaviour of a minority of lawbreakers tarnish what will be an exciting tournament,” the home secretary, Suella Braverman, declared.
The enforcement comes as a drastic surge in disorder and “pitch invasions” saw an approximately 60% increase in football-related arrests last season in comparison to the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Incidents were reported at 1,609 of the 3,019 games played last season, more than half of all matches, according to recent Home Office data, reports said.
However, the number of people who are prohibited from traveling to Qatar is barely higher than the 1,200 UK nationals who were prohibited from going to Russia for the World Cup in 2018.
Despite Wales joining England to compete in the tournament next month, “the Home Office did not provide a country-by-country breakdown of fans who will have their passports seized,” reports detailed.
Around 2,200 England fans received football travel bans for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and about 3,200 people were prohibited from going to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
While the World Cup is being held in Qatar, those facing bans can request permission to go to other nations outside of the Gulf, but even that will be difficult because they will be subject to stringent inspections, the report underlined.
Police will also be able to prevent people who have committed crimes in the past and are thought to be troublemakers from traveling to the Gulf. If such individuals are discovered trying to enter Qatar, they will be subject to a court hearing for a football ban order within 24 hours as part of a targeted operation at ports.
The Home Office also stated that Qatar-based police will be gathering information and issued a warning that supporters deemed to be “posing a risk” could receive a football ban order upon returning to the UK as well as being detained for offences committed in Qatar.
“As with all events of this nature, we are working closely with the host authorities on the safety of British nationals attending and on delivering a successful and enjoyable event,” Braverman said.
“Violence, abuse and disorder is not tolerated here, and this criminal behaviour will not be tolerated at the World Cup, which is why we are taking this firm approach.”
The majority of supporters will abide by the banishment orders, the report said, since 99% of those who received them “surrendered their passport” prior to the 2018 sporting event.
Following a total of 2,198 arrests, statistics released last month showed that 516 additional football banning orders were issued during the previous season.
A new power to extend football banning orders to cover online hate crime associated with the game is one of the new measures to address violence at football games.
The Home Office’s announcement that “abusive” supporters will be among those barred from visiting Qatar raises the possibility that a number may have engaged in such offences.
Following claims of extensive cocaine consumption during games, ministers also expanded football banning orders to cover class A drug offences during the matches.