Not too long ago I wrote about the upcoming FIFA World Cup games, which begin on June 11. Andrews International, which is providing executive protection for one of the sponsors of the games, told me that one of the biggest difficulties was in the coordination of all the security entities involved:
“Probably the biggest challenge that you have because of the size and magnitude of this event is that there are many more agencies and security organizations involved in the protection structure,” said Ty Richmond. “With that comes the challenge of coordination and communication, logistics and the cultural dynamics there.”
Well, before the games even officially start, FIFA has already experienced some serious security lapses. During a warm-up match between Nigeria and North Korea on June 6, there was a stampede that left 16 fans and a police officer injured, reported the Guardian.
Since this was not an official World Cup match, the president of FIFA said the organization is not responsible for security and it is up to the South African authorities:
"The security is always the matter of the state where the sports event is played. Football has to take the adequate steps to ensure the minimum standard of security for any competition. We have no police force. It is a cooperation, connecting football with the local authorities, police or military."
And there lies a good point. FIFA doesn't have a police force and they have no means of really providing direct security, according to this article from ESPN:
'We are organisers of a competition and, being the organisers of a competition, we have to take the adequate steps for security. But in no way does the football organisation, being local, regional, national or international, have any police force or military force to intervene in security.
"Football has to take the steps to make sure that these organisations are involved to ensure the minimum of security for any competition. FIFA has no police force. They cannot even take out a spectator from a stadium - it's not possible."
Hmmm, but no one talks about who exactly is in control of security. I'm sure the South African government, federal and local, has a big role, but there are a lot of private security companies in the mix. Working with unknown agencies was another one of the issues that Richmond pointed out:
“Unfortunately, you don’t have the advantage of having done a lot of activity and previous work with agencies,” he said. “You can do a lot of advanced planning and repetition of the process, but at the end of the day because of the size and magnitude [of the event], logistically it becomes more challenging in another country and if you have language barriers, that further complicates it.”
While I hope the FIFA president is right, that this was an unofficial event and didn't have all the security measures in place, but I certainly think it highlights some of the potential breakdowns of security at FIFA. And, we'll certainly be watching. Did you know the World Cup is the most widely-viewed sporting events in the world? Yep, there were more than 715.1 million viewers watched the final match of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany. Or so they say.