UEFA and the European Union join forces this week for the annual UEFA-EU Conference on Security at the NH Vienna Airport Hotel in Vienna, Austria.
The meeting, which takes place each September, is attended by representatives of European police and governmental agencies, security officers of UEFA and national football associations, security officers of the clubs taking part in this season's UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stages, National Football Information Points (NFIP), and – for the first time this year – stadium owners.
Hosted by UEFA and the pan-European Think Tank of Football Safety and Security Experts, this year's conference on Wednesday and Thursday has an expanded two-day programme.
The Vienna UEFA-EU conference has always offered a unique chance for interested parties to join together and exchange information and ideas on a formal and informal basis, while also benefiting from the conference programme. The conference unites all the stakeholders who have a contribution to make with regard to safety and security in European football.
The conference theme is "Raising the Bar – Improving Stadium and Security Operations". UEFA and its partners across Europe recognise that while national associations and clubs must face up to their responsibilities in this vital area of the sport, all stakeholders have a key role to play.
Discussions will build upon the theme of previous conferences – looking at the many vital forces that are behind efforts to improve stadium safety and security. The objective is to seek solutions and raise the level of commitment to offer the best physical stadium infrastructures and stadium and security operations to all involved in the game. The pursuit of excellent and continuous improvement will occupy the thoughts of everyone in the Austrian capital – starting from the premise that complacency is the enemy of safety.
Over the years, UEFA has put in place strict and comprehensive security provisions and regulations on the basis of lessons which have been learned from safety and security issues in the past. European football's governing body is adamant that safety of all those involved is of paramount importance in the organisation of a match – an obligation which must never be compromised.
UEFA seeks an integrated approach, involving authorities, police forces, clubs, supporters and other stakeholders, and encompassing everything from proactive strategy and prevention to response and learning, free of any political, legal or other barriers between authorities and event organisers.
Consequently, UEFA has invited local authorities and stadium owners to take part in the Vienna event. Key elements of the programme involve two main components of the safety equation – the P-factor (the state of the stadium infrastructure) and the S-factor (the quality of the stadium management).
The message is that the stadium owner, in conjunction with stadium management, plays a more decisive role in safety and security at an event than is often recognised. The need is to provide a balance between a reliable venue and efficient safety management, and the Vienna conference will study this aspect.
The strategies of crowd management – efficient cooperation between police and clubs inside and outside the stadium – is also on the agenda, given that the quality of such crowd management can be crucial in avoiding major incidents.
UEFA will be meeting stadium owners and managers to review stadium infrastructure conditions and stadium management, while the Pan-European Think Tank will hold talks with police delegates, in particular about invaluable police training events which have been taking place in recent times.
Among the speakers at the conference are David Bohannan, chairman of the Think Tank of Football Safety and Security Experts; Gianni Infantino, UEFA General Secretary; František Laurinec, UEFA Executive Committee member and chairman of the UEFA Stadium and Security Committee; Michael van Praag, UEFA Executive Committee member and chairman of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee; Marc Timmer, UEFA head of stadia and security; and Kenny Scott, UEFA safety and security advisor.
There will also be a message from the EU presidency, and contributions from the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) and the FARE anti-racism network.
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