16th January 2018
The FIFA World Cup is one of the world’s premier sporting events, with a global audience measuring in the billions, and this year’s event in Russia is set to be no different. But, unfortunately, it’s also an enormous security challenge, with tens of thousands of fans attending matches all over the host country, in-stadia of varying ages built to different standards – with the attendant risks associated with hooliganism, petty crime and even terrorism. As a result, fencing will play a major part at many past world-class events in rugby, football, and athletics.
One of the primary challenges is the sheer variety of locations that need to be protected during the World Cup. The obvious ones are the stadia themselves, but behind the scenes, each of the 32 teams has its own training pitches, base camp, and team hotel. There are also press areas, ports and airports, road routes and much else that must be protected from potential harm, or just enthusiastic fans. FIFA specifies that training grounds must be surrounded by fencing of more than 2m high (see here), including cladding to prevent climbing or spying. But there are also other considerations.
Another issue for the authorities to consider is the variety of threats that a major sporting event such as the World Cup can pose. Security fencing needs to be diverse enough to handle as many potential threats as possible, from basic crowd management to vehicle-based terror attacks. Extras like hostile vehicle mitigation systems can be used to give an existing fence an added dimension beyond its height. Using such a system, hostile vehicles can be stopped dead and prevented from gaining access to restricted areas while the fence continues to do its main job of separating the crowd.
Security isn’t just about stopping external threats from getting in – fencing also has a part to play in helping people escape from a dangerous situation. for example, a crush or a fire in a stadium can be extremely deadly if proper escape procedures aren’t followed. However, fencing can be used to funnel fans down pre-determined safe paths to prevent panic and stampedes. Larger gates can also be used to allow the overflow of fans from fenced areas if there are too many, preventing a situation from becoming too dangerous before it happens.