Alliance Sports Spokesperson Michael Long has challenged Lord Rooker to make the implementation of a Football Offences Act similar to England and Wales part of a triennial plan to promote a “Shared Future” and tackle segregation.
The Castlereagh Councillor, who is the Party Vice Chair, stated: “Great strides have been made using a bottom-up approach to drive sectarianism out of football grounds. The community relations work of the Irish Football Association and others and delivered worthy results, indicated by the demand for tickets for Northern Ireland home games.
“However, given UEFA’s lily-livered response to recent sectarian chanting at a Champions’ League match in Spain, government legislation is required to drive sectarianism, racism and hooliganism out of grounds once and for all.
“Soccer can grow and prosper at all levels in Northern Ireland, with more confidence in the team at all levels and growing interest in competitions such as the Setanta Cup. This must not be endangered by allowing sectarianism, racism and hooliganism to reign on the terraces with no legal threat.
“Therefore I challenge Lord Rooker to announce, as part of the Government’s ‘Shared Future’ plans, a Football Offences Act for Northern Ireland, and I have written to his ministerial colleague Shaun Woodward to that effect.”