Responding to security risks

The UEFA-EU Stadium and Security Conference in Warsaw provided an ideal platform for UEFA to explain its future vision on safety and security at football matches.

The Warsaw conference was attended by some 300 delegates
The Warsaw conference was attended by some 300 delegates ©Sportsfile

UEFA has highlighted its philosophies and future visions on safety and security at its annual Stadium and Security Conference.

These visions were emphasised at this week's UEFA-EU event in Warsaw by UEFA vice-president Michael van Praag. They include tough exclusion and travel restriction measures for known troublemakers; training for stewards, stadium managers, police and safety officers; and constant assistance and guidance to European football national associations.

"In my role as chairman of the [UEFA] Stadium and Security Committee, I am determined to ensure that UEFA will contribute to a sustainable improvement in stadium and security in European football," van Praag said. "It is my intention to ensure that across the spectrum of the 54 UEFA member associations, assistance is provided in the areas where it is most needed."

UEFA is drawing up training development and support programmes for all of those involved in stadium and security. "Stadium managers, safety officers and police who work alongside each other on a regular basis should be trained together," van Praag stressed, "to develop mutual understanding of how best to fulfil their respective roles and responsibilities." Stewards supporting police and stadium managers, he added, must be trained in a way which ensured that they also understood the balance between the three key pillars of safety, security and service.

"Our strategy will also strongly support exclusion of those who actively contribute to the negative aspects of behaviour, which turn positive fans away from our matches," van Praag continued. "We will seek to exclude troublemakers not only from our stadiums, but from the whole event experience."

"We will encourage the use of wide-ranging measures which prevent known risk supporters from travelling abroad. The current absence of wide-ranging measures in this area is a major contributory factor to the problems we face … we will encourage governments to empower police by providing them with the legal framework enabling them to implement effective exclusion strategies."

The theme of the conference has been "Responding to the Risk", underlining the need for pro-active measures and actions in relation to the wide variety of stadium and security issues that exist.

"There is no complacency, there cannot be complacency, and rightly so," said David Bohannan, the chairman of the joint conference organisers, the Pan-European Think Tank of Football Safety and Security Experts. Bohannan welcomed the common efforts being undertaken between UEFA and the European authorities to address the catalogue of safety and security challenges which, for example, not only include violence and disorder in around stadiums, but also elements such as protests of a political nature.

Delegates were given an invaluable briefing about crisis management at UEFA competition matches, and the role and functions of UEFA venue teams and the European body's Match Command Centre in Nyon in responding to stadium incidents which may sometimes need quick action to unexpected events.

Another potential emerging risk situation was highlighted in Warsaw – the use of drones by people with intentions that may be non-malicious, malicious (to make a protest) or hostile (to cause injury or damage). A workshop examined prevention and direct response measures which could be considered.

Michael van Praag gave a glowing verdict on the worth of the annual UEFA/EU gathering. "It seems to become somewhat of a cliche every year to mention how unique in its nature our annual conference is," he said.

"It is the only event which brings together police, clubs, and national associations from across Europe. It is also the forum to discuss contemporary issues affecting stadia and security in the organisation of football matches in UEFA's European competitions. I make no apology for highlighting the value of our conference once again."