SANTIAGO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Chile's Vice President Rodrigo Hinzpeter Monday announced a new law that applies stiff penalties against violence at soccer stadiums.
At an official ceremony at the presidential headquarters in the capital Santiago, Hinzpeter enacted the law that makes it mandatory for a public prosecutor to be present at a match, and holds team owners responsible for acts of vandalism and violence, among other measures.
The government has also created a special police division in charge of security at stadiums, said Hinzpeter.
"This is the first time in the history of Chile that we will have a special high police official in charge of security at stadiums," said the vice president, announcing the police division will be headed by Gen. Alejandro Olivares.
The new law also "prohibits ticket scalping and fixes specific penalties for those who commit violence, including being banned for life from entering a stadium during a soccer match," said Hinzpeter.
"Violence at stadiums is not a new phenomenon and does not affect only our country," said Hinzpeter, noting that soccer-related violence has caused hundreds of deaths and forced many countries to tackle the problem with stronger regulations and public campaigns.
Chile's National Professional Soccer Association "has enthusiastically participated and has committed itself to helping eradicate violence at stadiums," said Hinzpeter, adding "their cooperation has been fundamental."
Francisco Chahuan, a senator from the ruling party, praised the new law, saying it would once again make stadiums "sites for healthy recreation."
Matias Walker, an opposition party congressman, echoed the legislator's
opinion, saying it was "a good initiative that will allow families and children to again attend soccer matches at stadiums."
Walker said he agreed with having police presence at stadiums, but did not think the public should foot the bill, saying the force should instead be made up by private guards hired by team owners.
The new law was first proposed last July, after a fight between supporters of rival teams led to the death of a fan, making him the ninth victim of soccer violence in Chile, according to officials.