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Thugs could face a World Cup ban
FOOTBALL hooligans who organise pitched battles using social media and look to cause trouble in grounds can expect to face lengthy bans, police have warned.
The Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers have announced a proactive approach to football-related offences, such as racist and homophobic abuse, and malicious communications on social media sites.
They say anyone given a football banning order this season will not be allowed to travel to next year’s World Cup or the European Cham-pionship in France in 2016.
It comes as Wiltshire Police charged 10 Reds fans over a violent disorder after they were kicked out of the Royal Oak pub, in New Road, Brentford, ahead of the play-off game on May 6.
The suspects, aged between 16 and 20, were arrested on August 13 in a joint operation by Wiltshire and Metropolitan police officers after they obtained CCTV footage. All 10 were charged with violent disorder and are due to appear at Ealing Magistrates’ Court on September 6.
Police will also have an increased presence on the town’s streets as Swindon Town host bitter rivals Gillingham at the County Ground at 3pm today.
In January 2006, Town fans were held at Gillingham’s Priestfield stadium after a game in an attempt to calm trouble. Rocks and beer bottles were said to have been hurled across the stands.
Wiltshire Police intelli-gence officer Laura Collins said she did not expect any flare-ups between the two sets of supporters.
She said: “This is a game we have had some issues with in the past, however, although the fixture will be policed proportionately, I do not expect any huge issues.
“Gillingham are expected to bring around 500 or 600 supporters.”
She said police already monitor sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“It’s fair to say all football clubs have online abuse, and locally it extends to teams they are about to play,” she added.
The joint statement by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “There will be a presumption of prosecution whenever there is sufficient evidence to bring offenders before a court on appropriate criminal charges and where a Football Banning Order is considered necessary.
“As well as tackling violence, disorder and criminal damage we will deal robustly with offences of racist and homophobic and discriminatory chanting and abuse.
“Anyone receiving a FBO this season will not be able to travel to support England or Wales if they qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.
“As an FBO has a minimum duration of three years, a ban imposed this season will also stop them travelling to Euro 2016.”