It is never just another week in UEFA competitions. Each week, thousands of supporters travel to UEFA matches to be entertained by exciting football matches. These fans are the lifeblood of football. They should be able to enjoy the festive atmosphere and celebration of football without any concerns about their safety or well-being.
This notwithstanding, any mass sport event is not without its risks and challenges. Safety of spectators and all involved in the game should therefore always come first. But upholding this principle depends on UEFA working together with national associations, clubs, stadium owners and managers, national and local authorities and police to ensure safe, secure and welcoming conditions for all football matches hosted across Europe.
Within UEFA, the UEFA stadium and security unit is tasked to ensure that this European partnership between government, police and clubs is strong and able to deal with the many challenges of stadium and security. The European partnership is now well in evidence on the strategic level, in matchday operations on a local level and in the support offered to organisers of UEFA matches.
The best place to see what is new in the field of football safety and security is the annual UEFA/EU conference that takes place every year at the start of the season. This conference brings together national associations’ security officers, stadium safety managers, club safety officers and police representatives from all European clubs that have qualified for the next season of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. Over 350 delegates review the past season, exchange good practices and discuss arrangements for the upcoming matches. The high attendance reflects the increased scope of stadium and security affairs, and the importance attached to it by authorities and the football family across Europe.
Football events must never result in human tragedy. Driven by the horrors of past stadium tragedies, the pledge to ensure safety and security in European football has been followed by a pan-European strategy shared by all key European partners. UEFA, the European Union and the Council of Europe work together on a host of strategies and funding initiatives in the field of football safety and security. UEFA is a founding partner of the joint UEFA/EU working programme in operation since 2007. In 2010, the UEFA Executive Committee and the EU Council of Ministers approved the enhancement of the programme for the coming years. This public-private international partnership between governments and sports authorities is unique in its kind and scope.
UEFA’s contribution to the partnership is to represent the football family’s interests in football safety and security, while also stimulating all concerned to prevent incidents, comply with safety regulations and ensure proper policing and stewarding.
The UEFA stadium and security unit hosts expert panels on stadium construction and management, as well as on safety and security, to ensure that the best current practice is available for UEFA and its partners, and that this expertise is reflected in UEFA regulations.
Together with the UEFA Stadium and Security Committee, the unit developed the UEFA Stadium Infrastructure and Safety and Security regulations that govern UEFA competitions. In this way, UEFA promotes and ensures that all venues and clubs maintain the high standards required to host European football. In 2010, the Unit published the newly revised Stadium Infrastructure regulations.
The unit has published a variety of good stadium and security practices ranging from hosting of safe and secure UEFA tournaments (UEFA EURO 2004 guide), the safety and security organisation of UEFA finals (Multimedia guidance, 2008), the UEFA and CAFÉ good practice guide Access for All (2011) and a host of other topics.
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