A Level Playing Field for All? The Law's Response to On and Off-the-ball Incidents at Football Matches

Essay by da_ken_minA-, April 2002

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This is a study of the criminal liability of footballers whilst engaged in the playing of greatest sport known to man, in the countries of Scotland and England. It examines what their liability actually is, and argues that it should be optimised more by the prosecution authorities, as footballers are getting 'too big for their boots.' The choice is simple: either the Football Association manages to curb the recent explosion of crimes being committed whilst playing football through its own disciplinary system, or the Courts will have to take over their job for them.


Association Football plays an undoubtedly large part in the lives of many in today's society, and although it has undergone a major image change since the early nineteen-nineties, many obvious problems still surround the national game. The problem of football hooliganism, despite the best efforts of the police and the Government, is still a major stain on the respectable face of football, and this has been well documented.

What is now being recognised, however, is that it is not only the spectators' behaviour that is worth examining. Players and the staff of football clubs are beginning to realise that their actions are not only subject to the laws of football.

Football is a burgeoning business within the United Kingdom, with its popularity perhaps greater than ever. The money which has been brought into football, from a range of sources but most particularly from British Sky Broadcasting, has enabled it to compete with the traditionally more alluring Italian and Spanish leagues, both in terms of the quality of players and in the quality of the grounds. The Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster has also helped ensure that football is now more family orientated with the introduction of all-seated stadia. These changes have ensured that...