JOHANNESBURG: Organisers of this year’s FIFA World Cup have issued a stern warning to soccer spectators to arrive early for matches or face missing out on the action due to strict security measures that will be in place during the tournament.
A detailed security plan for the event has now been finalised and has been handed over to national police commissioner, General Bheki Cele for comment.
During the Confederations Cup last year fans were allowed onto the stadiums even before kick-off, but for the World Cup, spectators have been advised to arrive at least three hours before kick-off especially for the opening match.
Each supporter will be allocated a seat number so each ticket will require to be scanned before any access is granted. The information will be stored electronically making it easy for organisers to track down anyone who is inside the stadium.
“We are going to have strict security measures and if you want to take your seat and watch the game in time you better be at the stadium in good time,” said LOC head of security Mlungisi Ncame.
Security at all airports is expected to be beefed up as most teams and fans are expected to start arriving in the next few weeks.
It was also confirmed that Mexico, which takes on Bafana Bafana for the opening match, will be sending at least 15 000 supporters to the World Cup, of which most will be coming to Africa for the first time. The United States will be sending the largest number of spectators followed by England making the encounter between the two in Rustenburg one of the most important matches of the tournament in terms of security.
But security is not the only area that the LOC is focusing on, transport will also be a critical component and could make or break South Africa’s first ever World Cup. The LOC will want to ensure that mistakes made during the Confederations Cup do not occur this time around.
The past three weeks has seen the opening of a new terminal at OR Tambo International and Durban’s new King Shaka International Airport and hundreds of buses have been procured to transport soccer fanatics from all over the country.
“It has been a very hard period of planning for us and I think each and every host city is ready and knows what to do,” said the LOC’s Skhumbuzo Macozoma.
“The mistake we made during the Confed Cup was to allow one system (the park and ride) to be exhausted and now we want to balance all the available transport modes we have,” he said.
Soccer supporters will also be encouraged to avoid leaving the stadium at the same time when the final whistle blows. There will be entertainment in and around the stadium to keep people busy long after the matches have ended to avoid congestion on the roads and the exhaustion of transport facilities.
Meanwhile, the first group of volunteers from several countries has started to arrive in the country to assist during the 30-day soccer spectacular. Argentina will be sending at least 20 volunteers while 50 will come from Mexico, according to Onke Mjo who is in charge of the volunteer programme. The volunteers will guide supporters, teams and the media using all the languages of the 32 nations represented in the tournament.