Football clubs step up counter terrorism measures

Europe’s top football clubs have stepped up their counter terrorism and security operations before the start of matches in the Champions League and Europa League.

Safety and security officials from all Britain’s competing clubs and football associations met their European counterparts in Munich to consider to latest strategies for preventing terrorist attacks.

Security officials have been concentrating more intensively on safety as crowds exit stadiums since the Manchester Arena bombing. Police and stewards patrol the areas more intensively and CCTV scans are carried out before exit doors are opened at the end of matches.

The EU-Uefa conference followed a briefing by Uefa in June in Amsterdam, in which security staff were advised to watch outside stadiums on non-matchdays as well for potential terrorists planning attacks.

Uefa is offering further expert advice sessions and a specialist counter terrorism briefing at clubs and football associations in its 55 member countries.

Many clubs, including Arsenal and Manchester United, have bollards and other vehicle prevention obstacles around their stadiums. The Premier League held expert counter terrorism advice sessions in the summer in an effort to share best practice.

In the UK the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, a branch of the Home Office, first issued detailed protective security advice for stadiums and arenas in 2006, and maintains updated advice on guarding against attacks at stadiums, entertainment venues and ‘crowded places’.

John Beattie, Arsenal’s stadium and facilities director, said: “After the Paris attacks [the bombings outside the Stade de France in November 2015 during France’s friendly match with Germany], venues tended to concentrate on the safety of people as they came in. Now, since the Manchester bomb, we have to think further about protecting people as they leave. We are putting up as many measures as we can to deter terrorists from targeting our stadiums and to counteract what they do.”

Steve Frosdick, an independent safety and security expert, said: “enues have been increasing their 24/7 deterrence arrangements to make hostile reconnaissance more difficult. At matches, spectators will not notice some of the changes, for example plain-clothes personnel trained to watch for suspicious appearance or behaviour. But they might notice the adoption of a layered security approach with additional measures as they get closer to the stadium. Hostile vehicle mitigation and searching may be more thorough and there may be restrictions on bags.”

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