Qatar has made exceptional preparations in terms of safety and security and has spared no effort in building comprehensive international cooperation to ensure a seamless FIFA World Cup, top officials of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), told journalists here in an interview.
“With just a few days to go until the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ kicks off, we are proud that Qatar is fully ready to host the tournament, which will bring millions of eyes and hundreds of thousands of international spectators, said Mr. Mohammed Hanzab, Chairman of the ICSS.
“The ICSS has assisted the State of Qatar since the first beginning days when the nation was awarded the rights to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, becoming the first country in the Arab world and the Middle East to do so. Qatar has been able to capitalize on unique relevant expertise in the security field as one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world, and, at the same time, embrace the best practices developed in other countries, at all latitudes, who hosted major sporting events in the past.” Mr. Hanzab concluded.
“The ICSS is confident that Qatar will deliver a safe and secure tournament for all participants, thanks to the tireless efforts of its authorities and officers across these years of preparations. The world has changed so many times since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, going through pandemics and international turmoil, but the Qatari authorities continued to work with vision, coordination, and a cooperation spirit which has integrated in the World Cup preparations stakeholders across different nations and sectors, also including civil society.” ICSS CEO Massimiliano Montanari said.
Since its inception in 2010, what are the contributions and the role played by the ICSS in securing mega sporting events?
“Since inception, the ICSS, an international, not-for-profit organisation based in Doha, has provided support for Sport Governing Bodies, Local Organising Committees, and sporting organisations at international, national and local levels, through stadium design, development of organisational structures, operational planning, training and education,” said Mr. Steven Fleming, Head of Sport Event Security of the ICSS.
“We have developed the safety and security handbook and guidelines for global and continental sports federation, conducted country threat and risk assessments for international tournaments and together with the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT), in partnership with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the ICSS has been co-leading the UN Global Programme on the Security of Major Sporting Events and the Use of Sport to Prevent Violent Extremism. We also participate in the activities of INTERPOL, Council of Europe, World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant international cooperation mechanisms in the safety and security field.
In 2021, the ICSS, jointly with its UN partners, developed the Global Guide on the Security of Major Sporting Events recently translated into five official UN languages. The sporting bodies and organisations we work with, include, but are not restricted to, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL), FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ (Q22), FIFA, Asian Football Confederation (AFC), ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Before Q22, the ICSS has assisted the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) with regard to the security preparations of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and has been involved in the protection of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, alongside other events of continental and national dimension,” the ICSS Head of Sport Event Security explained.
How did the ICSS plan to ensure security at the FIFA World Cup 2022™. And is there any collaboration with the national entities at this level?
“Since 2013, it has been our great honour to have been a primary advisor and provider of technical assistance to SCDL and Q22 on safety and security for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Throughout this time, we have delivered in excess of 100 projects, the latest as recent as October 2022. These projects have spanned a full range of subjects from stadium safety and security design, developing a timeline of key deliverables, production of operational Concepts of Operations (CONOPS), safety and security operational planning documentation, policies, and procedures, through to training development and delivery for Ministry of Interior (MOI) Venue Commanders, Venue Safety and Security Managers and Coordinators, Private Security Officers, Supervisors, Chief Guards and Volunteers.
We have advised upon major event safety and security legislation, and undertaken observation programmes at several global sporting events and submitted learning and good practices from those events to integrate into operational planning for Qatar 2022. These projects not only cover stadium operations but also, transport, hotels, training sites, the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), the Main Operations Centre (MOC) and FIFA Fan Festivals (FFF). We designed and developed a comprehensive Police Protective Security Advisor training programme as well to develop an approach for the protection and management of crowded places city-wide.
Through these projects, the ICSS has greatly contributed to the protection of sporting competition and non-competition venues, host nation vulnerable targets, Qatar’s citizens and residents, athletes and participating member associations, international partners, visiting fans and tourists,” Mr. Fleming said.
How does the ICSS foresee challenges of sports stadium safety and security during the World Cup?
“Since first being awarded the Tournament back in 2010, Qatar has had an unprecedented amount of time to consult with and draw best practices from global safety and security experts in all aspects of major sporting event delivery. This has enabled Qatar to design and build stadiums with the safety and security of all attending or participating in the events, as a primary consideration. Of course, Qatar has also been able to position these stadiums to make the best use of its geography and topography, again with safety and security considerations paramount in their decision-making. The development of supporting national infrastructure, road networks and transport systems all support tournament requirements. Testing and exercising of tournament systems through events such as the FIFA Club World Cups of 2019 and 2020, the AFC Champions League 2020, the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, as well as other International and local tournaments have all added to the learning and contributed to World Cup preparations in terms of operational planning, communications and coordination on local and international levels.
Qatar is no newcomer to hosting international sporting events, having previously hosted the Asian Games, the IAAF World Championships and international tournaments for a range of sports. Recently, Qatar hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix, and annually hosts Diamond League Athletics, ATP Tennis Tournaments and the FIM Moto GP World Championship.
This is the first FIFA World Cup Tournament in history to be held with all 32 teams in one city. We are fully confident that Qatar will be able to successfully accommodate visitors including national supporters, many with long-standing rivalries who will be in the same place at the same time,” said the ICSS Head of Sport Event Security.
What is the ICSS stand on the recent allegations by some news reports on Qatar’s ability to host a successful edition of the world Cup?
“Tournaments of this scale will always bring with them challenges, also due to the development of new global scenarios; however, the training of Venue Management Teams, the operational planning, including incident management, crowd management, contingency planning and staff training all based around a thorough threat and risk assessment process, should leave us in no doubt that all stadium-based challenges will be dealt with effectively, professionally and in line with the highest international standards in the field of safety, security and protection of individual liberties.
Qatar has one of the best airports in the World, capable of handling the influx of spectators on a daily basis, it has without doubt 8 of the best stadiums in the world supported by state-of-the-art transport networks and a relatively new, but well tested public transport system.
Qatar has drawn upon the expertise of international partners, well versed in staging tournaments of this scale and has international assistance in its delivery of safety and security operations on land, sea, and air.
Any country in the world would face challenges in delivering a FIFA World Cup with all teams in one city; with all the logistical challenges that bring combined with the influx of visitors. There is no reason to believe that Qatar is any less able than any other city in the world to safely deliver a world-class tournament,” said Mr. Fleming.
How will all security agencies of the world coordinate and work during the World cup?
“From our experience with other major sporting events, there will have been considerable coordination amongst all national and international government and security agencies.
Also, the ICSS plays an important role in this regard, particularly through the global Network of National Focal Points on Major Events Security we have established jointly with the United Nations as a mechanism to promote different forms of mutual assistance and support across nations.
Coordination will undoubtably have taken place through international intelligence networks to identify and mitigate international threats and risks to the Tournament. Through international law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL (Project Stadia) and those of National policing agencies for the participating teams, intelligence and criminal data will have been shared and integrated into operational planning to ensure the safety and security of all who attend.
During the forthcoming tournament, Qatar will utilise its International Police Coordination Centre (IPCC) to facilitate the exchange of information between Qatar’s Police, INTERPOL and policing representatives of national teams’ home countries to ensure the safety of those attending. These national policing representatives provide the expertise and advice on how to deal with spectators from their home countries,” he went on saying.
What exactly would be ICSS’ role during Qatar World Cup?
“Our main responsibility has been fulfilled during these years of preparation and hard work by all stakeholders involved. During the World Cup, the ICSS have been tasked by Q22 to conduct safety and security observations and evaluations in a number of stadiums, in order to identify and encourage, in real time, good practice and report upon areas where improvements can be made throughout the tournament. We are proud to also be assisting Q22 in preserving the safety and security legacy of the event, in terms of collating and analysing the work conducted in preparation and during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the ICSS Head of Sport Event Security concluded.