AUTHOR: TUALE CHARLES AJUYAH

In the post-Covid-19 world, with spectators returning to stadia around the world to attend sporting events or concerts to experience the same energy and atmosphere as before, venues are now looking for ways to add value to such ‘fan experiences ’, especially with the general rise in ticket prices. This experience can however be usurped by hooligans, pitch invaders, and general bad behaviour of the attendees. Sports organizers have given even more attention to safety and security at stadia because such venues are soft targets for possible terrorist threats.

Successful stadium safety and security strike the equilibrium between stadium design and stadium management. The safety and security management team are those persons appointed by the association, event organizer, and host nation who are accountable for all aspects of safety and security at a FIFA event[1]. Individual Associations/Federations, through the national security officer and the stadium safety and security management team, are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of all spectators, players, officials, VIPs/VVIPs, and any person present at a stadium hosting a FIFA event.

To properly understand stadium safety and security, some key terms would need to be understood. The first of these is holding capacity. Thisis the number of people that can be safely accommodated within the stadium[2]. This is determined by the actual number of seats less any that cannot be used for reasons ranging from restricted view to those obstructed by objects, people, camera positions, advertising, boards, or railings. They could simply be damaged or missing or unavailable due to use by security staff or form part of a segregation plan.

Entry capacity is the numberof people that can pass through the turnstiles and/or other controlled entry points within one hour. The factors affecting entry rate range from the number of dispersal of entry points, the adequacy of directional information and familiarity of spectators with the stadium layout, and the division of entry categories, including special requirements such as disabled accessibility. The design/condition of turnstiles/entry points and the level of searching required[3].

Exit capacity is the number of people that can safely exit from the viewing area under normal conditions, within a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed ten minutes. The same factors that affect entry capacity are the same here including the width and distribution of stairways, escalators, gangways, chokepoints, and Obstructions[4].

Emergency evacuation capacity is the number of people that can safely negotiate the emergency evacuation routes and reach a place of safety or reasonable safety within the determined emergency evacuation time. Determining emergency evacuation time is based on the level of risk and the available emergency evacuation routes to places of safety and/or places of reasonable safety[5]

The final maximum safe capacityof a section of a stadium will be determinedby whichever has the lowest figure amongst the holding, entry, exit, and emergency evacuation capacity per section. All sections including sky boxes, hospitality suites, and VIP/VVIP areas will be considered, after that, the maximum safe capacity of the entire stadium will be established[6]

A safety certificateis a document issued by the local authorities of the host nation of a FIFA event that states that the stadium’s maximum safe capacity, after the above-mentioned factors have been considered and that the stadium is structurally fit for purpose[7].

There are also structural and technical issues that also affect the safety and security of a stadium. These include“Access control”, which deals with the fact that only those with a valid permit can be allowed entry into the stadium. Valid permits in this regard include Match tickets, Accreditations, and, when used, supplementary accreditation devices (SADs).Stewards, stadium safety and security management staff, and police officers have the responsibility to ensure that all those with valid permits have access to the stadium. They also have the responsibility to control the access to restricted zones such as players’ areas, the field of play, the media, hospitality, etc. under the preordained accreditation and stadium zoning plan[8].

MODERN TRENDS/BEST PRACTICES

There is a lack of awareness of experts in this particular field. It should be noted that there are professional service providers who are capable of handling all facets of stadium safety and security, from handling tickets to the operation of cameras and metal detectors. Organizers should be encouraged to utilize these particular types of security personnel.

While CCTVs are the norm today, there is a perception that safety and security are only needed in the interior of the stadium, it is evident that having control and managing the exterior is as important. The security team should extend their view of things and be able to control everything from the parking lots, and concession stands to where spectators queue up and to entries and other access points. In doing so, security teams have to ensure they balance carrying out their security and safety measures with a blissful spectator experience. No one likes to wait for a long time, yet, understandably, it would take time to screen every single spectator. The key challenge is improving fan safety, while also delivering an optimal fan experience. Possible solutions for this, however expensive, would be having walk-through metal dictators at stadia, although expensive, it would conceivably hasten the process.

An ingenious method of providing safety and security at stadia would be the use of social media. With geotags and hashtags security personnel can have watchwords where they observe for words like fight, bomb, gun, etc. to notice at the earliest any action that could affect safety and security. It could also help evaluate social sentiment, intent, and activity in real-time.

In conclusion, the fan experience is paramount to stadium event organizers and security is a significant part of this equation. New technology and innovative thinking can lead the way to better safety and security and a better fan experience. This is a winning combination that can make game/concert day the best it can be – for everyone.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Article 3, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

Article 22, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

Article 24, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

Article 25, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

Tuale Charles Ajuyah is a legal practitioner, sports administrator, and mediator

Email: [email protected]                Number: 08139254210


[1] Article 3, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

[2] Supra n1

[3] Supra n1

[4] Supra n1

[5] Supra n1

[6] Article 22, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

[7] Article 24, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

[8] Article 25, FIFA Stadium Safety and Security Regulations

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