SAFETY IN THE STA­DIUM

On the eve of the first Se­cur­ing Sport con­fer­ence that is be­ing held out­side Qatar, In­ter­na­tionl Cen­tre for Sport Se­cu­rity Vice Di­rec­tor- Gen­eral Heinz Palme takes us into the in­ner work­ings of how to en­sure se­cu­rity around a mega-sport­ing event.

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - BY AYSWARYA MURTHY

On the eve of the first Se­cur­ing Sport con­fer­ence that is be­ing held out­side Qatar, In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Sport Se­cu­rity Vice Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Heinz Palme takes us into the in­ner work­ings of how to en­sure se­cu­rity around a mega-sport­ing event.

Be­tween Oc­to­ber 6 and 7, heads of sport­ing bod­ies from around the world gath­ered at the iconic Lan­caster House in London to dis­cuss im­prov­ing safety, se­cu­rity and in­tegrity in sport glob­ally. Spear­headed by the Doha-based In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre of Sport Se­cu­rity (which opened an of­fice in London re­cently and plans to open two more in Geneva and Brussels), the con­fer­ence, held un­der the theme Sport Un­der Threat, fea­tured talks by the likes of leg­endary foot­baller Franz Beck­en­bauer, Lord Se­bas­tian Cole and Javier Te­bas. When the non-profit was cre­ated four years ago, it was a sur­prise to many in the in­dus­try that such a well-funded body with a broad agenda (in­volv­ing se­cu­rity and risk ad­vi­sory, train­ing, re­search and knowl­edge gath­er­ing) didn't ex­ist be­fore, con­sid­er­ing there had been so many in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence in the his­tory of sport­ing events. It was not un­til after watch­ing the neg­a­tive at­ten­tion the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion was bring­ing to the World Cup in South Africa that Pres­i­dent of the Qatar In­ter­na­tional Academy for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies and for­mer Lieu­tenant Colonel in the Qatar Armed Forces, Mo­hammed Han­zab, de­cided to bring to­gether se­cu­rity ex­perts from around the world to set up a cen­tre ded­i­cated to study­ing and shar­ing best prac­tices in this area. In the short time that it has been op­er­a­tional, Vice Di­rec­tor- Gen­eral Heinz Palme says it is now a well-recog­nised au­thor­ity on this is­sue with a big net­work of part­ners world­wide, like UNESCO, UNICEF, gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions, World Snooker As­so­ci­a­tion, the Span­ish, Ger­man and Ital­ian foot­ball leagues, etc.

Palme, who is a three-decade veteran of sports se­cu­rity, hav­ing worked most of his life with the Aus­trian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and been deeply in­volved in se­cur­ing the two FIFA World Cups in Ger­many and South Africa, is joined by a high-pro­file team that in­cludes a for­mer po­lice­man and Head of Se­cu­rity for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Ger­many, the Head of Se­cu­rity at FIFA who was also pre­vi­ously at IN­TER­POL, and var­i­ous se­nior per­son­nel re­spon­si­ble for se­cur­ing some of the big­gest sport­ing events

ICSS IS WORK­ING ON THE FIFA HAND­BOOK ON SE­CU­RITY. IN THE PAST WHEN A COUN­TRY STARTED A BID­DING PROCESS, IT HAD MUCH LESS IN­FOR­MA­TION TO GO ON AND OF­TEN HAD TO START FROM SCRATCH. “WHEN WE WERE PRE­PAR­ING FOR THE WORLD CUP GER­MANY, WE HAD MORE OR LESS NO DOC­U­MENTS FROM PRE­VI­OUS EVENTS,” PALME RE­MEM­BERS. “NOW FIFA HAS STARTED TO THINK ABOUT ITS KNOWL­EDGE-TRANS­FER PRO­GRAMME AND DIF­FER­ENT AR­EAS OF THE OR­GAN­I­SA­TIONAL AR­EAS HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH PRO­DUC­ING HAND­BOOKS.WE ARE DO­ING THE SAFETY AND SE­CU­RITY PART.”

in the last decade, be it the Olympics or foot­ball, rugby and cricket world cups. "We have some of the best-in­formed peo­ple work­ing with us with links to po­lit­i­cal, sports and in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions. This ac­cess to ac­tive chan­nels of in­for­ma­tion led us down the path of anti-ma­nip­u­la­tion and we re­alised it was just as im­por­tant to en­sure in­tegrity in sport,” he says.

Un­der­tak­ing ex­ten­sive, be­hind-thescenes re­search for their clients, the ICSS of­ten sends in­ves­tiga­tive teams to ma­jor events to look out for signs of match ma­nip­u­la­tion when they sus­pect some­thing's afoot or hear it through the grapevine. They also co­or­di­nate with ar­chi­tects and sta­di­ums plan­ners to en­sure that the in­fra­struc­ture be­ing put up meets se­cu­rity stan­dards. Un­der a nine-year con­tract with the Supreme Com­mit­tee for De­liv­ery and Legacy, the ICSS is do­ing this work for all the sta­di­ums com­ing up in Doha and ver­i­fy­ing that they have the right de­sign con­cept in place, that they are both cus­tomer-friendly and safe. “We have also made a re­port about the ex­pe­ri­ences in se­cu­rity dur­ing the last two foot­ball world cups; about how those coun­tries dealt with risks and chal­lenges. We then started to iden­tify and pri­ori­tise the risks to the 2022 World Cup. Ad­di­tion­ally we have com­menced train­ing ex­er­cises for small groups of po­lice and armed forces to start pre­par­ing them for 2022.” Palme lists their con­tri­bu­tions over the year to Qatar's World Cup ef­forts, not­ing that their jobs and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties will evolve and grow as we get closer to the big day.

But the or­gan­i­sa­tion has a global agenda and over the years it has been act­ing as con­sul­tant to FIFA, ad­vis­ing the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup, and con­duct­ing dis­cus­sions with UEFA for or­gan­i­sa­tion re­view and new setup. “We can't say who but we are about to sign a con­tract with a fa­mous club in Europe who are start­ing con­struc­tion on their new sta­dium,” he says. The or­gan­i­sa­tion is also part­ner­ing with aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions like Sor­bonne Univer­sity in France to re­search and re­port on match ma­nip­u­la­tion and il­le­gal bet­ting. They have also teamed up with Har­vard on a project on mak­ing sport sus­tain­able by gen­er­at­ing a pos­i­tive im­age. “We pre­pared an in­dex for bid­ding coun­tries to iden­tify the white ele­phants and un­der­stand de­vel­op­ments they should have in place be­fore em­bark­ing on the bid, which we of­fer to city gov­ern­ments and lo­cal sport bod­ies,” Palme says.

Palme's mantra is ‘Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity with Min­i­mum Re­stric­tion' and most au­di­ences would agree. It's im­por­tant to note that the fans are there to have a fun time and overly ob­vi­ous se­cu­rity like po­lice­men in heavy gear can dampen the ex­pe­ri­ence. “In the sta­dium, no one wants to see po­lice­men on the pitch. They should se­cure the en­vi­ron­ment but also be in­vis­i­ble. At Rio Mara­cena, there were ten rows of po­lice­men phys­i­cally check­ing my ticket. It was ridicu­lous! Safety and se­cu­rity are fore­most to a cus­tomer ser­vice, and how to ap­proach peo­ple and ad­dress them are im­por­tant is­sues,” he says. “This is why cre­at­ing a strat­egy and phi­los­o­phy is the most im­por­tant rec­om­men­da­tion we can make to any or­gan­is­ing body. They have to be open about greet­ing peo­ple from all over the world who love and want to cel­e­brate the sport. They are nor­mally not hooli­gans, they have to have a good time and leave the coun­try with a pos­i­tive im­age.”

So when you are cre­at­ing the strat­egy for your event, the se­cu­rity as­pects must also fit into it, he says. “If Qatar wants au­di­ences to Ex­pect Amaz­ing, the se­cu­rity team must want to do.” Palme gives the ex­am­ple of the World Cup in Ger­many in 2008. “Granted, it was eas­ier there be­cause we had a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple, but we made cer­tain that our slo­gan – A time to make friends – was in­grained in each per­son who was work­ing to­wards the event. Ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the po­lice, was spread­ing the mes­sage and was pri­mar­ily very warm and wel­com­ing, which def­i­nitely helped to pre­vent any in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence or hooli­gan­ism,” he says.

But prepa­ra­tion is key, he warns, be­cause any­thing is likely. “You can't wait till some­thing hap­pens. You need a plan, a def­i­nite set of op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dures for any kind of even­tu­al­ity.” Po­lit­i­cal is­sues of­ten spill over onto the pitch, like the in­ci­dent in Port Said in 2012 which killed 74 peo­ple and in­jured over 100. It was big con­cern dur­ing the UEFA cham­pi­onships in Poland and Ukraine in 2012; Ukraine was in the throes of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil (which even­tu­ally came

to a boil this year) and there was cau­tious plan­ning to elim­i­nate any risk of vi­o­lence.

“Mak­ing risk as­sess­ments and cre­at­ing cri­sis man­age­ment sce­nar­ios are crit­i­cal. In Ger­many, we com­piled all pos­si­ble risks from ev­ery depart­ment, pri­ori­tised the sce­nar­ios (from close to 250 risks, we made a list of the top 10 that we wanted to fo­cus on, like a bomb threat in the sta­dium) and then ran through each of them. We had two whole days of high-in­ten­sity train­ing with venue man­agers and se­cu­rity heads of first re­sponse and im­me­di­ate plan of ac­tion. We did some­thing sim­i­lar in South Africa, spend­ing half a day in each of the venues, giv­ing them a cat­a­logue of risks to be pre­pared for,” he says.

High crime rates have been a spe­cific risk in the last two foot­ball World Cups in South Africa and Brazil. “This stopped a lot of peo­ple from go­ing for the game in South Africa. Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause the gov­ern­ment didn't do enough to counter this, the me­dia took lead­er­ship on this to show the coun­try in a bad light, which it didn't de­serve. The pri­vate se­cu­rity in­dus­try in sports didn't ex­ist in South Africa which was also an added risk,” he ex­plains.

Brazil (which Palme be­lieves was just handed over the World Cup and hence was lack­adaisi­cal) ad­di­tion­ally had to deal with mis­takes in strat­egy plan­ning and con­se­quent de­lays in in­fra­struc­ture de­liv­ery. “They let time slip out of their fin­gers and when they fi­nally re­alised they had to speed up, it was too late (though thank­fully it turned out fine in the end). How can you start op­er­a­tions and train­ing when the fa­cil­i­ties are not ready in time?” he asks. It's dou­bly im­por­tant be­cause we keep in­cor­po­rat­ing new tech­nol­ogy into our sta­di­ums and it's im­per­a­tive that we have enough time to test them be­fore invit­ing the pub­lic in. Also, with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of so­cial me­dia, any small in­ci­dent can re­sult in loud echoes on­line, he re­minds us, in­sist­ing again on the need to plan, think and con­sider ev­ery­thing. “Se­cu­rity is not a feat for trial and er­ror,” he says.

Palme care­fully side­steps the is­sue of the vo­latil­ity in the Mid­dle East and how it might af­fect the se­cu­rity plan­ning for 2022. It's un­der­stand­able; the sit­u­a­tion is chang­ing ev­ery day and any spec­u­la­tion about eight years down the line is com­pletely point­less. But there is no doubt that it's on ev­ery­one's mind. “Of course, it's an im­por­tant fac­tor to con­sider. When we talk to the Supreme Com­mit­tee we raise doubts about what could be chal­leng­ing and risky. But it can be ad­dressed only in co­op­er­a­tion with the au­thor­i­ties and the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion is largely gov­ern­ment-driven and there isn't much we can do there. We don't know what's go­ing to hap­pen in the next eight years but the only thing Qatar has to do is run through the cat­a­logue of mea­sures that must be taken. It's rel­a­tively easy to say, but it gets very com­plex, spilling over into cy­ber se­cu­rity and other re­lated fields,” he says.

The im­por­tant thing is to be aware that you are host­ing the world and that the World Cup is a big op­por­tu­nity for global recog­ni­tion

Crime rates and lo­cal

protests against the World Cup re­sulted in high se­cu­rity dur­ing the matches in Brazil this

year.

Spec­ta­tors at Port Said Sta­dium re­mem­ber the vic­tims of the ri­ots two years ago.

HEINZ PALME Vice Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Sport Se­cu­rity

Ger­many pre­pares for its World Cup in 2006. Clock­wise from left: A bomb dis­posal ro­bot at­tempts to safely det­o­nate an ex­plo­sive; se­cu­rity of­fi­cials study a sta­dium evac­u­a­tion drill; Emer­gency ser­vice prac­tice evac­u­a­tion in­jured spec­ta­tors; se­cu­rity forces par­tic­i­pate in a mock hi­jack­ing sce­nario (with a plane­ful of will­ing jour­nal­ists; a crowd con­trol ex­er­cise in progress.

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