On June 11, the eyes of the world will be eagerly trained on South Africa and the spectacle of the FIFA Soccer World Cup. The game of soccer has however attracted its fair share of unsavoury crowd incidents in the past at tournaments throughout Europe and even in Australia. Crowd violence

A number of factors can make the sport of soccer susceptible to crowd violence. The deeply rooted tribal rivalry associated with some teams can act as an antagonistic force for supporters. Add to this the sometimes conflicting cultural and religious persuasions as well as alcohol, and it becomes more obvious as to why the game sometimes attracts a higher inherent threat of violence.

Soccer crowd "hooliganism" is usually associated with European soccer fans. The ABC news recently reported that Serbian fans rioted following their shock loss to New Zealand in a World Cup pre-tournament ‘friendly' in Austria two weeks ago.

Australian soccer crowds have also experienced culturally motivated conflict as was seen with matches in the 2007 A-League.

Crowd safety profiling

Many venues around the country host various football codes throughout the year and some will host football related celebrations during Soccer World Cup. In preparation for the events it is important for all venue and event managers to profile the crowd expected as part of the event's risk assessment process. The results will dictate the risk mitigation plans including, security and staffing levels, transport arrangements, crowd monitoring systems, medical services and can also have an impact upon temporary liquor licensing provisions.

Factors that should be considered in the crowd safety profiling assessment might include:

  • Expected alcohol types and consumption levels
  • Event type
  • Expected audience numbers and venue capacity
  • Police LAC threat assessments
  • Expected crowd type
  • Expected temperature for the event
  • Event organiser's level of experience
  • The event's history
  • Event length
  • The age profile expected
  • Level of safety and emergency planning
  • The type of venue where the event is being hosted

In the past this exercise has been an intuitive one however new technologies are becoming available to assist with recording this crowd profiling risk assessment. Venue managers should liaise closely with local police and other agencies to ensure security threat assessments and other inputs are included in their event risk management planning.