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Discriminating against soccer?

Mark Devenport | 12:22 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

MLAs have been debating David Ford's Justice Bill. There was a general welcome for the proposed offender's levy, intended to fund victims projects.

However the section of the bill dealing with sport has prompted some pointed exchanges. The Ulster Unionist David McNarry wondered why restrictions on ticket touting and banning orders applied to soccer but not Gaelic or rugby. He alleged that the measure discriminated against Protestant working class males.

By the lunchtime break the minister had yet reply to Mr McNarry. However he did intervene to clarify a complaint from the DUP's Gregory Campbell who wondered whether a section prohibiting throwing a missile onto the field of play might be used maliciously to prosecute a fan returning the ball to the players. Mr Ford pointed out that the section would only come into force if a spectator had no "lawful excuse" for his or her action. He presumed throwing a ball back would be covered.

Or to put it another way, the ball, in this case, would not be in any judge's court.


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