Temporary Barriers CHOGM

16th July 2021

The Hot Topic – What can UEFA do About Event Security?

On the 11th of July, England were set to play Italy in the Euro 2020 final within their home ground Wembley.

It was a major event that many didn’t want to miss, however, as you’d expect tickets for the game sold out fast! With many fans who didn’t get seats for the game opted for the comfort of their own home or heading over to their local pub to watch, a small population tried their luck and travelled to Wembley stadium in the hopes of getting in.

Yet, as we know, large groups can turn nasty and with mob mentality spurring people on it soon turned dangerous. As the video below shows, fans were seen barging their way through the waist high spectator barriers, falling over themselves, pushing stewards and even picking up the rails to force themselves through the crowds.

These scenes are shocking from Wembley, but they aren’t unfamiliar. These scenes are all too similar to those we saw at the start of this year with Trump supporters storming the Capitol and rioting against the Presidential Election. The waist-high crowd barriers put in place to keep protestors off the property, couldn’t hold up against the protestors and led to the Capitol being flooded with rioters. You can listen to an in-depth analysis of why the riots in the US happened in our podcast episode.

So, what’s the common denominator for both of these events? Quite clearly, it’s the ineffective waist high crowd barriers that can be scaled or pushed over too easily meaning breaches in security for these events. So surely a full height temporary fencing system would be the option for events management to keep crowds under control. The waist high crowd barriers look like a temporary system and so naturally, crowds are to treat this as a temporary fixture, scaling, moving and pushing them over to get through and entering the premises. Whereas, if a temporary fence looks like a permanent fence line, crowds are less likely to scale and try to move them.

But how do you deploy full height systems that doesn’t pose a risk to spectators whilst also keeping events secure?

Well in simple terms extending the first perimeter would make the most sense but you still have large numbers of supporters at the ingress points with poor physical security in terms of the number of stewards required to deal with them.

To keep both spectators and premises safe whilst deploying event fencing, using the funnel system could be the answer for effective security that keeps people safe. As seen in the famous film ‘300’ and more specifically the Battle of Thermopylae, the small Greek army held off the large Persian invasion by strategically pinching the Persian force into a narrow mountain pass, essentially a funnel, meaning their numbers counted for nothing and the Greek army could defend against manageable numbers. So, if we take this strategy into the events environment, the funnel system could work in a way for crowd flow and number management. If the funnel system had been deployed with full height temporary fencing such as the FenceSafe Eclipse or FenceSafe SR1, it would force the flow of people into manageable numbers, whilst at the same time making sure no harsh edges within the fence line that could pose a threat to those within the crowd.

crowd surge would only result in small numbers at the front being moved forwards rather than large packs and the others behind on the extremes would be against a diagonal fencing line rather than a direct fence line so preventing a hazard.

Now with Qatar World Cup 2022 coming up, what will FIFA do to prevent situations like this and ensure security and safety at all times?