Making stadia safer

Chris Eaton
© Foto-net

FIFA’s Stadium and Security Committee met at the Home of FIFA last Wednesday with one core topic on the agenda: the revision of FIFA’s Safety Regulations.
The inaugural FIFA regulations came into force in December 2008, but with the establishment of a new FIFA Security Department on 1 January 2011, it was decided that not only the regulations, but existing stadium security concepts should also be reviewed.

The horror of stadium disasters has not been completely eradicated, most recently, and tragically in Port Said, Egypt. While the responsibility of preparing for and organising a match lies with each host national association, FIFA believes it is also its duty to assist its members as much as possible.

The focus of the current review took in risk assessments of each competition, national and local security concepts, planning for match venues and related sites (e.g. training camps and hotels), and international co-operation arrangements.
During 2011, this saw FIFA experts visit the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia, and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Italy. Visits were also made to Manchester United to oversee match-day planning and operations for a Premier League game, as well as to the USA for a similar discussion with the NFL.

We’ve been looking at what further guidance we can provide to our member associations, ensuring that when it comes to stadium safety and security, nothing is left to ‘interpretation’.

Non-sporting events were also examined as part of a range of international case studies, such as the Love Parade in Germany in 2010, when 21 people lost their lives and more than 500 people were injured at a music festival.
Shockingly, between 1971 and 2011, 1,500 people lost their lives and over 6000 were injured at 60 sporting events around the world, statistics which are sadly likely to be much higher in reality.

Chris Eaton, FIFA Head of Security, told “Stadium safety and security is a balance between good design and good management. Despite the growing number of excellent stadia being built around the world, there is currently no international industry kitemark or certification which exists.

“Consequently, as part of this review, we’ve been looking at what further guidance we can provide to our member associations, ensuring that when it comes to stadium safety and security, nothing is left to ‘interpretation’.

“We established there is often a disconnect between national authorities and event organisers, particularly early in the planning process. One of our recommendations - in line with the current mandatory requirement for member associations to appoint a National Security Officer – is they be further required to appoint a National Security Advisor. This person should be a serving senior police officer who will acting as the liaison between the authorities and event organisers. This will facilitate greater police cooperation at World Cup events, not just nationally but internationally.”

With the growing popularity of other activities connected to FIFA competitions, such as the FIFA Fan Fests, universal safety recommendations and regulations will also come into force for these events too.

Andre Pruis, former Deputy Commissioner of the South Africa Police Service, and Security Adviser to FIFA for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, explained: “During the 2010 World Cup, there were 31 days of Fan Fest activity in 16 cities across the world with more than six million visitors. In Berlin, there were 350,000 visitors for the Germany-Spain semi-final alone. That’s a phenomenal amount of people in one place.

“Issues such as ingress and egress to the site, signage, evacuation procedures, emergency vehicle access, medical provisions, PA systems and communication systems, stewarding, and crisis management and contingency plans all have to equally apply as they would to the stadium itself.

“In South Africa, during the 2010 World Cup, more than 2.6 million people watched matches in the different Fan Fests across the country. The people who go to those events should also be able to do so knowing that they can enjoy themselves in a safe environment.”

For Brazil 2014, there will be 832 qualifiers played across the globe, and stadiums once again need to have minimum requirements for spectators, as well as participating teams and officials.

The revised FIFA Safety Regulations will now be circulated to the members of the committee for further input, as well as to key departments within FIFA responsible for the operational planning of competitions. In autumn 2012, the final draft will then be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee for ratification.

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