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Stadium security and safety gets continental look

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The FIFA/CAF Regional Seminar for National Security Officers ended on a high note with participants hailing the importance of an opportunity to discuss issues of security and safety at the various stadia.

The seminar was held from 12-14 May in Cairo, Egypt to strengthen the security and safety management during competitions and matches, as well as providing an awareness session on integrity matters. The overall aim of the seminar was to provide assistance and equip the Security officers to handle related issues in their respective associations. CAF is the latest beneficiary of the National Security Officers Seminar after CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and AFC.

Topics discussed included FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations, with presentations on safety and security management, stewarding, maximum safe capacity, operation centres, crowd control and management, fire and anti-terrorism prevention measures and the FIFA Integrity Initiative. Security Officers from 52 Member Associations took part in the three day seminar.

FIFA Senior Security Manager, Serge Dumortier said security and safety rank amongst the most important areas of football, which led to the establishment of the FIFA division for safety and integrity in 2011.

“I was impressed with the attendance and participation of the stakeholders,” Dumortier said. “The highlight was Stadium Safety and Security that is a concern in several countries around the world, with some of them being from the African continent. It is important for all Member Associations to develop their proper regulations tackling Stadium Safety and Security matters.

“We cannot only be waiting on Governments alone to do it and Member Associations, as event organisers, have their part to do so in order to ensure proper safety and security management during football matches as well as to join the worldwide fight against integrity breaches. We strongly encourage CAF, as it has been requested by several of the participants, to further assist the Member Associations in having a dedicated unit to deal with Security and Integrity matters.”

It was a very intensive three days of exchanging and sharing ideas with other participants.

Ghana’s representative, Nathan Kofi Boakye, who handled security operations during the West African nation’s maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup™ in Germany in 2006 discussed the benefits of the seminar.

“It was revealing, especially the FIFA Integrity Initiative, and we have to work to ensure fair play in football. At the same time, we have to help to dissociate football from any criminal activity. I hope the participants will go back and implement the security measures which is the centre of football to ensure the beautiful game is played without any violence that can mar its beauty."

"About 96 per cent of the African associations responded which is a positive sign," said Essadik Alaoui of Morocco. "Most of the participants were high ranking personnel with experience which attest to the importance of such a seminar. It was a very intensive three days of exchanging and sharing ideas with other participants."

Felicien Bandora from Rwanda was also impressed. “It was generally a good programme and we learned most the things we have been doing back home in our countries," he said. "Now the main task is to facilitate the supervision and implementation of the issues discussed”.

“It was very educational and I learned a lot," said Zambian representative, Bennie Gerald Silwamba. "I hope to go back and impart the knowledge to my colleagues to ensure safe matches."

Other speakers at the seminar included Deborah Doe, FIFA Security Consultant and Patrick Beckles, FIFA Security Officer.

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