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ESPN FC  By ESPN

UEFA lifts Champions League and Europa League alcohol ban

Fans at Champions League and Europa League matches will be able to buy alcohol next season after UEFA changed regulations banning its sale in stadiums.

European football's governing body told ESPN FC it had amended its rules, approving the change at an executive committee meeting last month, meaning local and national laws will now be applied at match venues.

Article 36 of its Safety and Security Regulations has been changed to read: "The match organiser may only sell or distribute alcohol within the stadium or its private environs ... within the limits permitted under the national and local law as applicable from time to time."

But alcohol will not be able to be drunk in stands in English grounds, where its consumption is not allowed.

Football Supporters Europe, which represents fans across the continent and had argued that the ban was unfair, issued a statement welcoming the change.

"For a long time football supporters have felt unfairly treated in comparison with fans of other sports like rugby, to say the least," CEO Ronan Evain said.

"It is not the sport you follow which makes you behave better or worse. Furthermore, the alcohol ban did not apply to VIP areas at football matches, causing a two-class society even within the stadia.

"Supporters felt that the alcohol banning policy was paternalistic, as there is absolutely no evidence or research to suggest that banning alcohol in a stadium has any bearing whatsoever on preventing or curtailing football-related disorder in and around it."

The organisation said it believed that alcoholic beverages being on offer in grounds might mean fans got there earlier, reducing congestion nearer to kick-off times.

"More broadly, this decision shows the potential for UEFA to adopt a country-by-country policy based on the specifics of existing domestic legislation and local football culture," it added.

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