New anti-hooligan travel ban comes into force

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The Independent Online

New powers to crackdown on suspected football thugs, which come into force today, are expected to be used sparingly in the run-up to England's match against France next weekend.

New powers to crackdown on suspected football thugs, which come into force today, are expected to be used sparingly in the run-up to England's match against France next weekend.

Police can arrest anyone they think is likely to cause trouble and take their passport in the five days leading up to an international game.

Suspected hooligans will then find themselves in court facing a ban of up to 10 years from matches at home and abroad, under the controversial new law rushed through in the wake of violence at Euro 2000.

But one senior police chief said he would be "surprised" if hundreds of suspected hooligans were rounded up during the build-up to Saturday's clash.

Instead they are expected to target ringleaders who have repeatedly been spotted inciting trouble at foreign matches by undercover officers but proved impossible to convict.

Police have not had time to collate information on all suspected hooligans since the Football (Disorder) Act was passed at the end of last month.

And today's Bank Holiday has put extra pressure on magistrates courts which will have to hear applications to ban any fans prevented from travelling.

Despite the violent scenes involving England fans at Euro 2000 police chiefs are playing down the prospect of trouble at the England-France clash.

Many fans will only be in Paris for the day and interest seems to be low with just 50,000 of the 80,000 available tickets having been bought.

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