FAI seeks easing of alcohol rules

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From the Sunday Independent

Niamh Horan  – 31 MARCH 2013

THE FAI plans to ask UEFA to change stadium rules on match days so that soccer fans can enjoy alcoholic beverages during games, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Currently, football fans attending international matches at the Aviva are allowed to drink in premium level bars, but not in the general admission areas used by the majority of supporters.

A lifting of the ban would bring soccer in line with rugby, where fans are allowed to drink during games at the stadium.

The news of the FAI’s plan comes in the same week that the CEO of the FAI John Delaney, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne and GAA director-general Páraic Duffy appeared in front of an Oireachtas Committee to argue against banning alcohol sponsorship in sport.

“As it stands, FIFA state that soccer fans can’t drink during matches, whether it’s England, Northern Ireland or Kazakhstan, and we want to change that,” said an FAI source.

“We will raise the issue with FIFA because we feel there needs to be a bit of common sense applied to the issue. There needs to be a distinction between a match that’s classed as high security and then an ordinary match, where there is no risk attached to fans drinking.

“It’s understandable at matches against England and Northern Ireland but when it comes to games against the Faroe Islands, for example, there really is no need to have the ban in place.”

At Wednesday’s Oireachtas hearing, Delaney warned the Government that any move to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport would seriously jeopardise the FAI’s efforts to bring big events to Ireland. He said the FAI is serious about putting Dublin forward as one of the host cities for Euro 2020 under UEFA president Michel Platini’s plan to hold a multi-venue tournament.

All three sports bodies said a ban on alcohol sponsorship would endanger their educational projects on substance abuse.

Delaney said Garda figures show that late-night Dublin leagues run by soccer clubs and attended by huge numbers coincided with a 52pc drop in anti-social behaviour in Tallaght and a 49pc drop in Ballymun.