FIFA has run a pilot programme aimed at strengthening existing stadium safety and security management practices across Africa.
The new initiative from FIFA aims to enhance stadium safety management standards in football across 14 member associations from the COSAFA region.
The first pilot programme was run in collaboration with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and concluded recently.
The conclusion of the first pilot programme of the new FIFA Stadium Safety programme follows an extensive consultation process that started in January 2019 with FIFA and key stakeholders from the football and stadium industry, including the Council of Europe, UEFA, CAF, Sports Grounds Safety Authority, European Group of Football Safety & Security Experts.
The group discussed how to encourage best practice in safety and security management at football stadiums internationally.
Following the meeting, and as a first step, a pilot programme was initiated with member associations from COSAFA each attending two-day workshops delivered by experts from the FIFA Safety & Security sub-division, CAF and the SGSA.
Ahead of the inaugural two workshops, which were both welcomed at the start of the day by SAFA President, Dr. Danny Jordaan, the SGSA also undertook safe-capacity assessments of the participants’ national stadiums with the findings informing the capacity-building sessions.
Joyce Cook, chief member associations officer at FIFA, said:
The introduction of the new FIFA Stadium Safety programme will provide an important platform for member associations to enhance existing stadium safety policies in place, as well as playing an important role in raising overall safety management and security standards in football stadia around the world.
As an important first step in the rollout of this new initiative and building on the historic MoU signed recently by the FIFA President, between FIFA, CAF and the African Union, we are delighted to be working with independent experts from the SGSA in the first pilot programme, which will help strengthen stadium safety standards in 14 member associations across the COSAFA region.
Helmut Spahn, FIFA safety and security director, added:
Educating and sharing best practice with member associations plays a vital role in raising stadium safety standards internationally, as well as enhancing the consistency of safety and security policies that are currently applied across national stadia around the world.
In close collaboration with experts from the SGSA and our Stadium Safety and Security Working Group, the workshops delivered as part of the first pilot project in COSAFA will support the 14 member associations in Africa and help strengthen safety measures in place in their national stadiums, which will ultimately make the overall experience safer and more enjoyable for fans from these countries.
As the governing body within the Region, Zonal Union COSAFA was also in attendance at the two workshops along with their Member Associations in order to receive the feedback from SGSA following their assessments and to take note of the challenges faced by the Members – information that is critical to COSAFA who organise regional competitions in various member countries.
Speaking at the end of the workshops General Secretary of COSAFA Sue Destombes said:
This initiative by FIFA is critically important to our Member Associations, as well as to the rest of the African continent, as it provides key learnings in safe-capacity assessments and safety management. Together, these steps will go a long way towards preventing further fatalities at what should be enjoyable entertainment for the Football-loving fans across the continent.
What is key now is to maintain the impetus created by this pilot programme, for which COSAFA is very grateful, by organising ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops so that what was learned by the few during the past week will be taught to the many within our Member Associations, as well as those in Government and the Police, whose buy-in to these learnings and guidelines will be critical. COSAFA is committed, together with the assistance of FIFA and CAF, to continue what has been started.