A government-appointed committee of inquiry today recommended that attendance at British soccer matches be limited to home team fans, and called for measures to identify and punish soccer "hooligans."
The committee's report said a membership system that would exclude visiting fans was not "the perfect solution" for ending violence between rival supporters that has caused significant loss of life, injuries and property damage in Britain over the past two decades.
But "unless some urgent steps are taken to produce some more efficient method of excluding hooligans," it said, "football (soccer) may not be able to continue in its present form much longer."
Home Affairs Minister Leon Brittan said it was primarily the responsibility of soccer authorities to implement the recommendations "with the urgency required." He implied the government would take action if those authorities did not.
The report noted the government already has banned liquor at soccer stadiums, and so that was not a subject under its purview. But it said many believe banning beer sales at stadiums actually may contribute to violence by encouraging drinkers to stay outside stadiums as long as possible before kickoff.
The report discounted the widespread belief that violent fans frequently are unemployed youths acting out their frustrations.
"The cost of traveling to a ground, of buying drink, of hiring conveyance, of buying a ticket does not tend to suggest that those who go to football grounds are particularly poor," it said.