Focus on stadium security

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Safety and security is a pivotal component of any successful event and affects everyone attending or participating in the event. It is widely acknowledged that safety and security can only be achieved by establishing a balance between anticipation, good management and well-designed infrastructure.

The recent overcrowding of the Independence Stadium during The Gambia and Algeria encounter has become a topic of conversation among fans, who turned out in their numbers to cheer the National Scorpions. Thousands of football fans failed to enter the stadium even though many claimed to have tickets. Again, thousands of spectators were in the pavilions and surrounding the pitch which does not conformed to CAF and FIFA rules. Even though we want the public to turn in their numbers to cheer the boys, but we must make sure the security of players and the fans are guaranteed at all times.

It was reported that some unscrupulous individuals who are not part of GFF printed thousands of tickets which brought the confusion of overcrowding. Officials should be on alert ahead of Scorpions crucial match against Togo slated for October 16 at the stadium, by providing more security measures and control the sales of tickets to avoid the repeat of The Gambia-Algeria encounter. Officials should be vigilant, focus and arrest anyone found photocopying tickets to face the full force of the law.

African football has been marred by several serious stadium disasters in recent years, prompting some to call for better crowd control and safety measures. The recent overcrowding of stadium is a security risk and The Gambia can be punished by CAF. This even prompted Algerian players to delay the match for about 90 minutes for fear of security.

Football is a huge investment and The Gambia as a country needs bigger stadium of 50000 capacities through the cooperation with China. If football should get results government should also invite business community especially the GSM companies to contribute more in football development and in return have their taxes reduced. This is a practice in many African countries and a case in point is neighbouring Senegal, whose main GSM company Orange and their national lotto, are the main sponsors of the Senegalese national team.

We must ensure that stadiums are considered as a safe environment for people to share the joy of our beautiful game. We must also work harder to ensure all precautions are taken and most importantly, people feel safe and secure, as much as at their homes.

Sports in particular football brings unity and peace and as such it should no longer be seen as leisure but lucrative business which brings foreign exchange and exposure for the country.

“True public safety requires a collaboration between law  enforcement and the community.  ”

Betsy Hodges