Safety and Security Operations


03 min. reading time

Safety and security are the most important considerations for the operation of a stadium. Warranting the safety and well-being of all spectators, players, officials and staff should always have overriding priority.

The history of previous safety and security incidents, and the lessons learned from them, highlight the need to constantly assess these risks and should guard against the danger of any complacency in this area.

This section addresses the key aspects of safety and security operations. For further guidance, please refer to the FIFA Stadium Safety & Security Regulations as well as the SGSA’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (6th edition).



In some contexts, the terms “safety” and “security” are used interchangeably; however, they each have a distinct meaning. In the context of stadium operations, and in particular safety and security operations, it is important to understand the differences between the two.

Safety means being protected from all aspects that can cause harm, be they accidental or intentional. It relates to the protection of people from being injured or facing a risk to their health and well-being during sports events. Safety concerns the physical infrastructure of the stadium, the operation of the stadium, the mitigation of any potential hazards, and the behaviour of the crowd inside and outside the stadium.

Security means the protection of the stadium building, stadium staff, players, match officials and spectators from external threats and misbehaviour. Security therefore focuses on identifying these risk factors and putting measures in place to deter, prevent and sanction any such incidents. Terrorism is an extreme example of an external and intentional threat to the stadium building and people.

The third element in an integrated safety and security approach is service, which comprises all measures designed to make football and other sport events enjoyable and welcoming for all. Safety and security are in principle a frontline (customer-facing) service, and often stewards and security personnel are the first or only members of staff with whom spectators will interact. It follows that service should be the visible element of the integrated safety, security and service approach, as shown in Figure 4.7.1.

Figure 4.7.1
The balance between safety, security and service

The balance between safety, security and service is key. A stadium may be secure, but that does not automatically make it safe or welcoming. In fact, physical security measures such as fences and lockable gates can pose major safety risks in emergency situations.

Stadium staff often have a role in both frontline service delivery and warranting the safety of all spectators. For example, stewards providing directions or showing fans to their allocated seats also have an important role in facilitating emergency procedures.

For the coordinated implementation of safety, security and service on matchdays, integrated command and control is crucial. This means that the stadium’s safety and security organisation should not work in isolation from the relevant public authorities, such as police, fire services and medical services, but should rather work together in a coordinated manner. There should be a clear definition of responsibilities between the stadium safety and security organisation and those of the public authorities. In the event of a major incident, primacy (in relation to the control of the stadium) could shift to the public authorities. Therefore, a clear understanding of how and when this would occur is required in advance. This command and control structure should also be reflected in the set-up of the VOC (see Sub-Section 5.4.3), which is a crucial physical element in facilitating this integrated approach.

A designated person, usually called a safety and security manager or similar, should ultimately be responsible for all safety and security operations on behalf of the stadium. In some cases, this manager (and deputy) are named on the stadium safety certification, which means that they are personally responsible and liable for ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees and participants. The safety and security manager should be a competent person with the appropriate skills and proven experience.


Safety is achieved through a balance of good design of the physical infrastructure and good safety management. Safety management is the set of policies and procedures in place, which together with an appropriate operational/organisational structure ensures the safety and well-being of all attendees and participants.

The calculation of the stadium’s maximum safe capacity is covered in Sub-Section 2.3.4. This should be reviewed on a regular basis.

The stadium operations plan or manual contains all safety management policies and procedures (see Section 4.4). It should be distributed, communicated and explained to the relevant internal and external stadium staff and stakeholders.

Risk assessment is a crucial element in safety management and forms the starting point for operational plans, policies and procedures. This involves the ongoing and regular assessment of all safety and security risks specific to the stadium and each match or event. The risk assessment will not only inform how regular event operations are to be carried out, for example through the definition of operational control measures; it is also the basis for the anticipated response to any incidents or any exceptions to regular operations.

Establishing contingency and emergency plans is an important aspect of mitigating risk, and these plans are an essential part of the stadium’s safety management policies and procedures. Contingency plans are prepared by the stadium’s safety and security management team and describe the procedures to be followed in case of specific incidents that could disrupt regular operations, for example bad weather, a suspicious package or a pitch invasion.

An emergency plan addresses the planned response to a major incident occurring in the stadium, such as a fire or a terrorist attack. Emergency plans are usually prepared by the local emergency services and must be integrated with the stadium’s contingency plans.


Security management cannot be viewed in isolation and must be balanced and coordinated with safety and service. Within this integrated approach, security deals with prevention, the reduction of risk, and the response to any external (intentional) threats, criminal activity or misbehaviour.

Security, both inside and outside the stadium, is usually the responsibility of the police or other local security authorities. However, in some cases, responsibility for security lies with the stadium management (sometimes delegated to private security companies), with police on standby in case of the need to escalate certain incidents and/or to respond to emergencies. The stadium management’s responsibility may include searching and screening for prohibited items upon entry to the stadium.

The deployment of police and security inside and outside the stadium should always be risk-based and proportionate. Too many visible police and security staff could create an environment in which some groups of spectators feel intimidated, which would detract from their overall experience.


The concept of service within the integrated approach includes all measures with the primary aim of making all attendees and participants feel comfortable, appreciated and welcome.

Providing an efficient, polite and welcoming service is an important element in this approach as it can:

• facilitate good communication with spectators and other groups;
• encourage acceptance and compliance with safety policies and procedures;
• provide reassurance that safety is paramount and in-hand; and
• ease tensions with certain supporter groups.

Good customer service should be embedded in all parts of the match organisation, including stewards. The basic roles and duties of a steward can vary between countries (and also stadiums within countries). In general terms, it usually involves taking care of the health, safety and welfare of all spectators, carrying out safety checks, controlling crowd flows (ingress and egress), providing basic first aid, and responding to emergencies.