San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica has new law to ban violent fans from sporting events

A new law aimed at reducing violence and racism at sporting events in Costa Rica entered into force Friday after it was published in the official newspaper La Gaceta.

The “Law on Prevention and Punishment of Violence at Sporting Events” does not outline criminal sanctions, but rather prohibits entrance to sporting events for periods of up to four years for violators.

The law targets spectators carrying weapons and drugs, those who impede a match or enter a field or locker room without authorization, and fans hurling objects onto the pitch.

It also punishes those who damage vehicles or public and private property within five kilometers of a stadium.

The harshest sanction – a four-year prohibition from attending events – is reserved for fans committing acts of racism, fighting or inciting violence.

Sports Minister William Corrales praised the new legislation, saying, “It will allow families to recover their spaces at stadiums and all sports facilities.”

The bill was approved by lawmakers on June 5 and signed into law by President Laura Chinchilla on Aug. 6.

Public Security Vice Minister Celso Gamboa believes that “even though it does not include prision sanctions, it is a qualitative improvement for the country.”

The law also stipulates the creation of an Information System for Security in Sporting Events, consisting of a photographic record that will allow police officers to identify prohibited spectators trying to enter a sporting event.

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