A UEFA-sponsored programme aimed at training stewards to work at football matches in Serbia has been launched, as part of a groundbreaking safety and security initiative.
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After more than a year of planning involving UEFA, the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) and representatives of the Serbian government, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at tackling problems around football-related disorder has been launched.
A week-long programme took place at the FSS training centre in Belgrade to train 30 people from the Ministry of the Interior and FSS, which will equip them to train stewards who work at matches across Serbia. This is a new departure in Serbia, and the event was developed and delivered on behalf of UEFA.
"This innovative programme will boost the capability of Serbia to respond to the problems of football-related disorder," said Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, speaking at the opening of the event. "It presents an opportunity to bring all relevant agencies together working towards a common goal."
The programme is based on recognised European good practice and is unique in the level of detail which it provides to the potential trainers. Following the completion of the five-day programme, it is anticipated that the 30 trainers will be responsible for training many thousands of stewards across Serbia. Each potential steward will receive 24 hours' training, covering topics from basic customer service through to acting appropriately in emergency situations.
The FSS has played a major role in putting this event in place and the association's general secretary Zoran Laković was a key player in developing a protocol between the football authorities and the Serbian government. Recognising the progress that has been made, Mr Laković said: "This event is a major step forward for all those concerned in the safety and security of football matches in Serbia.
"The need for a professional, well-trained stewarding system in Serbia is clear to everyone involved and the programme will go a long way to achieving this," he continued. "What is clear is that progress can only be made where all agencies involved come together to address the difficult issues that we face."
UEFA's stadium and security head Marc Timmer added: "Through initiatives such as this stewarding training programme sponsored by UEFA, and supported by the government and Football Association of Serbia, we hope that we can start to make the football stadiums in this country safer and better managed places to watch football."