City Manager's Newsletter: Editorial 2010: Stadium Preparedness

Posted On Monday, 24 July 2006 02:00 Published by
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One cannot but be impressed with the overall organization of the 2006 German FIFA Football World Cup. This only comes from good planning and attention to detail.

One cannot but be impressed with the overall organization of the 2006 German FIFA Football World Cup. This only comes from good planning and attention to detail.

FIFA is a multi-billion Euro business organization, best know for its World Cup and other major international events and its support for national football associations, all of which is built around the beautiful game of football. FIFA football is played in carefully selected stadia, each of which must be able to have four qualities: (i) a stadium with a pitch of the highest international standards, (ii) an infrastructure within the stadium to transmit the game electronically; (iii) good, preferably public, transport access to the stadium; and (iv) a safe and secure environment to ensure players, officials and all spectators are able to easily arrive at the stadia and find their way around where they need to be.  At match time things must run like clock-work and there is little room for error.

We attended the match between Croatia and Japan in Nuremberg last Sunday and undertook a debriefing with the venue team to work through what they had to do to ensure match-day went off without a hitch.  I must say arriving at the football stadium and looking across at Zeppelin stadium, where Hitler rallied his Nazi party, murdering many people there until he and his ilk were stopped on the battlefield and with the convictions at the Nuremberg trials, I could not help being reminded of his words in Mein Kampf when he stated: “Mass demonstration must burn into the little man’s soul the proud conviction that though a little worm he is nevertheless part of a great dragon”.  Thankfully, the new Nuremberg stadium is now only a venue for football, sports and other forms of entertainment.

The stadium precinct is divided into three zones: an outer perimeter, an inner perimeter and the stadium itself. Outside the outer zone one usually finds fan parks (places where fans without tickets can enjoy the matches on big screens), the hotels for special guests (FIFA and the teams) and training venues for the two teams.

Fans must arrive with tickets and in Germany the tickets contain basic information including the name of each person.  Each ticket contain a microchip and certainly represents the way in which ticketing technology is moving.  As the 41000 fans arrived at the outer perimeter some 200 people checked their tickets simply to ensure they have a ticket valid for the day of the match.  Spectators then divide into various sectors, usually four which would be the different parts of the stadium (North, South, West and West).  Each sector is colour coded and clearly signed so that fans can easily find their way around,   and security problems minimized.  Fans from opposing teams are usually allocated different sectors of the stadium and it is from the outer perimeter that they can be channeled.

Public transport is a key element in the success of the event.   An important innovation has been to give all fans with tickets free access to public transport on match day within the 20 kilometres around the stadium.

The inner precinct is an area from the stadium extending to about 1-2 kms out. In this area, all vehicles entering are checked for security purposes as well as  to stop ambush marketing which may occur.  It has been known for truck drivers advertising brands in competition with the sponsors to park their trucks in sight of the stadium and to then disappear, leaving their ‘billboard’ behind!

The stadium precinct starts when fans enter the stadium at their designated sector and there were 53 ticket access points in Nuremberg.  They have to scan their ticket with an embedded micro chip in it at the gate and they then get access into the stadium.  Having entered the stadium their last check is at the specific block where their seat is located where security personnel and volunteers ensure spectators get to the right seats.

There is no doubt that we must start running our matches in this way to ensure that fans realize the benefits of such organization which improves efficiency (everyone must be able to leave the stadium in a few minutes if there is a disaster), safety and security.  Importantly, experience shows that most security problems at stadia emerge from either transport and ticketing or from fan behaviour.

Within and around the stadia attention must be paid to many other matters, from cleanliness to merchandising to refreshment centres to toilet facilities.  At Nuremberg, for example, there were far too few toilets for women.   As I looked at the fan base it was interesting that the Japanese fans included a high proportion of women, whilst the Croatian fans included relatively few women.  Whilst I am not sure if this led to the lack of access to toilets for women, it occurred to me that such attention to detailed planning even around fan composition before each event is important because once women start using toilets meant for men, further security problems could be encountered.

We have some way to go to ensure that all fans are properly educated about how these matches will be organized at the stadia.  This would help not only our planning for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but will mean that we start running our own events more professionally and that the flow of people and traffic around our stadia is more efficient.


Dr Michael Sutcliffe
City Manager: eThekwini


Publisher: eThekwini Municipality
Source: eThekwini Municipality

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