It’s truly a shame that sporting events across the globe have now become associated with senseless violence and destruction. We’ve seen it happen in countless countries in almost every major sport, and chances are, it will be the same old story in Poland and the Ukraine at the Euro 2012 Soccer Championships.
With recent terrorist attacks in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, not only are crowd and riot control policies under examination, but also counter-terrorism efforts. The security agencies in both of these countries will soon have their hands full, and soccer will ultimately be the last thing on their minds.
A crowd crush actually occurred during a recent match between Poland and France, and as a result, that stadium is under intense scrutiny. The reason this happened? Apparently there were about 7,000 fans trying to gain entry to the Polish stadium an hour or so before the match officially began. Poor communication as to where the ticket-holders were supposed to go led to an enormous gridlock, and as a result, a few fans were trampled.
Stadium officials blamed it on drunkenness and late arrival, but there were four UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) representatives at the match and they commented that they were “horrified” by the poor organization at the stadium.
Although games will not be held at this particular stadium, Poland is already under an international spotlight, and they need to be prepared for what is likely to be a pretty rowdy series of events. The Ukraine must also be ready, as simply holding this giant event will leave them subject to a sort of international surveillance as well.
Security forces in charge of fan safety should really be focusing their energy and attention on threats from outside the host cities, and especially from outside the stadiums. Controlling crowd movement with the proper signage and directionals, and keeping fans away from restricted areas is a sure-fire way to ensure a safer crowd experience within stadiums of any sort.
These types of events are supposed to be fun, and the fact is, there is no foolproof way to keep the hooligans out. But implementation of the appropriate policies coupled with the proper equipment will help guarantee a safer, more enjoyable experience for fans at the Euro 2012 games in June.