Sports Law • Risk Management

Soccer Riot in Eqypt---A Call for Stadium Security

The riot that erupted at a soccer game in Port Said, Eqypt left 74 dead and at least 248 wounded when 13,000 Al Mary fans armed with knives, sticks and stones stormed the field, chasing players and fans of the other team, Al-Ahly, who tried to escape by running towards exits and up the stands.

Although many people cried for help, it’s been reported that there was no police or army intervention for almost an hour. “It saddens me to witness such violence in a sport that has the power to unify nations and overcome differences," said FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan. "I have confidence in the Egyptian football family and their ability to recover from this tragedy and regain their strength."

This tragedy that killed and injured so many in Egypt is a strong reminder on the eve of the Super Bowl and the London Olympics of the consequence of violence that could take place in a stadium, especially at a high profile event. Most events that have the potential of arousing such violence and discord are high profile enough that steps can be taken in advance to protect spectators and players. Provision of trained security is an important component of risk management planning for these events. Police officers and in some cases, military forces might be necessary as in the case of the Olympics, where terrorism is an ongoing threat. Anyone entering the stadium should be subjected to a search of personal belongings and any weapons or possibly unsafe items, should be prohibited. Alcohol consumption should be monitored and disruptive fans ousted. After the game, security personnel and police should restrict fans from the field and closely monitor behavior. With such actions, a repeat of the Egypt soccer tragedy hopefully will not occur.