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3,000 hooligans banned from World Cup travel

More than 3,000 football hooligans will be banned from travelling to South Africa for the World Cup, the Government confirmed today.

Measures to stop troublemakers who are currently barred from watching matches from going to the tournament this summer will be passed in the Commons in the coming weeks, according to the Home Office.

The step will allow Home Secretary Alan Johnson to impose a "control period" on approximately 3,200 hooligans who are currently subject to banning orders.

Banning orders prevent hooligans from attending football matches in England and mean they have to surrender their passports to police before international football matches.

But in order to apply the sanction for the month-long duration of the World Cup, Mr Johnson has to lay a statutory instrument before Parliament, a Home Office spokesman said.

The powers are part of the process whereby officials try to prevent England fans from being able to cause trouble during international events, he added.

"Football banning orders have proved highly effective in preventing known risk fans from travelling overseas to football matches," the spokesman said.

"There has been no significant violence at any England match or tournament played overseas since 2000 when the current football disorder strategy was introduced along with very tough banning order legislation.

"The behaviour of English fans has improved dramatically in recent years and there is nothing to suggest that that people will travel with the intention of causing problems.

"However, there is no complacency.

"Police will monitor all England fans on departure and intercept any known to pose a risk of violence or disorder, and we are working closely with South African authorities to help minimise any safety and security risks associated with hosting a major football tournament."

Figures released by the Home Office last month revealed the number of football hooligans arrested by the police fell last season.

There were 3,752 arrests at matches in England and Wales - a fall of 2 per cent on the 2007/8 season.

Half were for disorder and around a third for alcohol offences. Other arrests were for ticket touting and violence.