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Safety and Security at Soccer Matches

By Ngwako Machethe

When the invite landed in my e-mail from Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA) to attend the 167th edition of the Soweto Derby media tour using Park and Ride, which as it is most of the time – a sold out event…I jumped to the opportunity of experiencing the behind the scenes of organizing such an event. With such a big event, come many logistical but mostly safety and security issues as it has been the case in the previous meeting between these two giants of South African football. The stories of muggings, fraudulent tickets sales and other unfortunate incidents have marred this beautiful spectacle in the past.
A first time experience for few of the journalists started with Park and Ride experience, a bus coming from North Gate to the stadium with Eyethu Security’s Phil Prinsloo explaining and taking us through the strategic plan around the freeway dedicated to the event. He also confirmed that there were seven private security personnel in and around the venue with the total number of 1773. Upon arrival, there were more visible Metro/Traffic Police around the stadium precinct, from the Soweto entrance up to the infamous Sasol Garage. It was one of the smoothest entries into the stadium of ALL the derby games I have attended at the FNB stadium.
We were also allowed to attend the match meeting, which happens 3 hours before PSL game kick-off. The meeting was chaired by the Match Commissioner and in attendance were each team representative and media officer, the producer and floor manager from the television broadcasters, the senior police and Metro police officers, a representative of the security service provider, the PSL, Disaster management, the stadium manager, clubs heads of security and a representative of the medical service provider. It was an eye-opener as we got to learn that the security planning between the various law enforcements took place on the 22nd, 29th January and 5th February.
From the meeting we were taken to the Command Centre (VOC), were ALL the security clusters are represented and on the screens, you could see the majority of the inside and many parts of the stadium precinct. VOC Commander Col Kraemer confirmed that the security personnel outside the stadium would swiftly react to any incident that they pick up on the screens. Well, after all of this I felt secured but my only question lingering in my mind was the medical services at the stadium.
And Medical service provider was also kind to take us to the emergency rooms at the stadium as well as their emergency ambulance which he says, “it is capable to perform any kind of emergency medical attention while driving to the nearest hospital”. Their facilities are manned by professional and qualified medical staff.
After the game, it was no surprise that there were no major incidents reported and hope that this security efforts can be a norm at the stadiums…and one day we can fully have a family friendly stadium experiences, after all it ENTERTAINMENT.

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