Tuesday 11 April, the team bus of German side Borussia Dortmund is on its way to Signal Iduna Park for the Champions League quarter-final against Monaco, when three explosive devices go off. One player, Marc Bartra and one policeman got injured.
The terrorist threat across Europe is still lurking and it may be no surprise that sporting events are a potential target, as John Beattie, president of ESSMA - The European Stadium and Safety Management Association - told The Guardian.
“Football matches and crowded events are recognised as targets for terrorism, with tens of thousands of people in the same location and the high profile of television coverage. “
Since the triple suicide bombing outside the Stade de France in Paris in November 2015, the threat of terrorist attacks at football matches is high on the list of current security concerns. Therefore, several measures, both infrastructural and operational are taken.
“Heightened security measures have been in place at major venues in the UK and Europe and counter-terrorism is a key part of planning for events,” explained John Beattie.
The role of well-trained security staff plays a vital part in the clubs’ match day operations. UEFA Executive Committee member and UEFA Stadium and Security Committee vice-chairman František Laurinec emphasized during the UEFA-EU Stadium and Security Conference in Bucharest, September 2016: “We must all pull together to counter the risk of terrorism. None of us can feel remotely complacent.”
“People should be reassured that a great amount of work is done to assess and protect against risks at sports stadiums across Europe, but the nature of those risks is changing all the time,” concludes John Beattie.
The events also showed the power of social media. Borussia Dortmund and their fans answered with an act of solidarity and unity, offering Monaco supporters somewhere to sleep through the hashtag #bedforawayfans.
Security in and around the stadium impacts all other stadium management aspects. It was once again clear that safety management is a crucial value for everyone in the industry.
ESSMA brings together safety managers and other stakeholders to share best practices and address current topics in safety management. Combined with ESSMA’s research and development, this allows us to share expertise in this domain.
The terrorism topic was part of ESSMA’s Safety Management Workshop last year. Richard Barnes - Counter Terrorism Security Advisor London of the Metropolitan Police Service - presented how they advise UK stadiums to prepare better against terrorist threats and underlined the role of stewards and staff.