The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has initiated the first-ever Caf Stadium and Security workshop to reduce the recurring incidents of crowd trouble across the continent.
The two-day meeting is being supported by Fifa and it aims to train National Security Officers at Caf’s 54 Member Associations with the knowledge of stadium safety and security.
Speaking on Monday, Caf’s General Secretary Mouad Hajji affirmed the importance of the workshop which could go a long way in protecting match-goers, players and officials.
“Today marks an important milestone and a great leap forward towards ensuring that the safety and security of fans, players and officials is a top priority during and after football matches across the African continent,” Hajji said in his opening speech.
“The lives of the thousands of fans who throng our various stadia to share moments of joy with family and friends depend on top levels of security and safety.”
Insecurity has been a continuing problem in Africa over the years, with several recurring cases of unrest springing up from time to time.
Ismaily were thrown out of the CAF Champions League after crowd trouble in a home game between the Mango Boys and Tunisia’s Club Africain in January.
The home supporters took exception to various decisions by Cameroonian referee, Sidi Alioumu, and threw bottles and other foreign objects onto the pitch, which ultimately prompted the game to be prematurely stopped in the second half of stoppage time.
Additionally, in a Caf Confederation Cup semi-final, second-leg encounter between RS Berkane and CS Sfaxien in May, players, officials and fans of the visitors stormed the pitch after losing 3-0, which saw them eliminated regardless of a 2-0 first-leg victory.
Referee Maguette Ndiaye escaped unscathed, but one of his assistants wasn’t so lucky, as he was on the receiving end of the melee.
The latest step to reduce the consistency of the violence was praised by Fifa Director of Security Helmut Spahn as “historical”.
“We need to use football to unite people all over the world and especially here in Africa. This is a historical workshop for Africa and your participation is very important,” Spahn said.
“Let’s make history and let’s make football safe and secure.”