When FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke finally announced in November that all 12 host stadiums across Brazil would be ready in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, you could forgive some organising officials for breathing a sigh of relief.
This sigh, however fulfilling though, would have been a short one. What Valcke said next highlighted the task still facing Brazil in order to host a safe, secure and successful World Cup. “In one city there are 17,000 hotel bedrooms and a 45,000 capacity stadium,” he said in a word of caution to officials, highlighting that solutions need to be found quickly if the country is to cope with the estimated 500,000 international visitors the local organising committee and authorities hope to attract. Nevertheless, whilst accommodating these visitors is one issue, ensuring their safety and security is another.
As well as hosting the 2014 World Cup, Brazil will also host the 2013 Confederations Cup, which takes place in June. Whilst reports around the host stadia preparations for the Confederations Cup have been lukewarm at best, the Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza and the Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte have been officially handed over to the organising authorities, showing that preparations for 2014 are now moving in the right direction.
Away from the stadiums, FIFA has also recently alluded to Brazil’s increasing crime rate. As many news reports have highlighted, security forces in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which will host three Confederations Cup games and seven World Cup matches including the final, are currently engaged in a widespread security operation to clean up the city’s most notorious favelas.
This military-led ‘pacification’ programme is aimed at targeting organised crime across certain favelas in an effort to improve public safety in Brazil’s second-most populous city. Its necessity is highlighted by a 2011 report carried out by the National Confederation of Industry and published by O Globo, which stated that 51% of 2,000 Rio-dwellers interviewed felt that public safety could be improved, with 79% saying they had witnessed or experienced some type of crime in the last 12 months.
As a result, Brazil will invest an estimated $900 million in its security forces in a bid to make the 2014 World Cup “one of the most protected sports events in history”, with plans to have one police officer for every 50 people attending football matches. This is a substantial sum of money when you consider South Africa, another country which faced question marks over security, set aside a total security budget of $150 million when it hosted the 2010 World Cup.
Nevertheless, whilst Brazil is busy preparing for two high-profile international tournaments, the security challenges that these competitions bring are inherently different. Whilst the 2014 World Cup will bring a considerable number of tourists from all over the world and require significant planning and preparation for this one-off event, the 2013 Confederations Cup will not command the same level of attention as FIFA’s showpiece event, receiving more attention nationally than internationally. As a result, the 2013 Confederations Cup will only be able to partly simulate tournament conditions and test preparations ahead of 2014.
Whilst securing stadia is a crucial part of preparing for a FIFA World Cup, the importance of security planning for fan zones and ‘soft’ venues around Brazil will also play an important role in the overall success and security during the event. These ‘soft’ venues, which include hotels, restaurants, bars and fan zones, are areas which both local and international fans, as well as tourists can visit. However, these venues represent an enticing opportunity for criminal activity, such as pickpocketing and theft, given that they attract large crowds and affluent tourists to one location.
According to the Institute of Public Security, there were 40,556 reported robberies in Rio de Janeiro during the first seven months of 2011. While this was a 14.3% reduction for the same period of 2010, public safety is one aspect away from the football that will need to be addressed if Brazil is to be seen to host a safe and secure Confederations Cup and World Cup.
With this in mind, close cooperation between all stakeholders including local government, footballing authorities and public and private security organisations is essential to define clear roles and responsibilities in the lead up to both events and to deliver a security concept that accounts for the wider environmental, economic and political landscape. However, this sharing of knowledge is very rare amongst major event organisers, with many approaching the topic with a blank sheet of paper.
As part of the International Centre for Sport Security’s (ICSS) mission to share knowledge in the field of sport, safety, security and integrity, we have developed a new framework to assist major event organisers, called the Security, Safety and Integrity Model (SSI Model). Designed to support cities and nations around the world who are bidding for and hosting major international sport events, the SSI model covers the eight key elements of delivery and will hopefully play an important part in ensuring positive legacies are left by hosting safe and secure events.
Ultimately though, the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup represent a significant moment, not only for Brazil as a country but for the security industry as a whole. While there are undoubtedly challenges ahead, hosting the Confederations Cup later this year offers Brazil an exciting prelude to the World Cup, and delivering a safe, secure and successful tournament would undoubtedly have a positive impact on both domestic and international confidence in the lead up to the showpiece event in 2014.
This is a personal perspective of Helmut Spahn, executive director of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS). The ICSS regularly organises events to encourage the creation of sport security and integrity networks and to drive new thinking. The third edition of the ICSS’s International Conference for Sport Security and Integrity, also known as Securing Sport, will take place in Doha, Qatar on March 18-19. More information on the conference can be found at www.securingsport.com.