Overcrowding In Stadiums, What Can Be Done?

Large crowds and overcrowding in stadiums are becoming a potentially lethal problem.

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LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Overcrowding en los estadios, ¿qué se puede hacer?

A tragic event recently took place in Indonesia. It was a stampede that left 125 dead in a stadium, the youngest of them being a child of only 3 years. Arema FC fans invaded the playing field after the game, to which the police mistakenly responded with the use of tear gas.

Approximately 3,000 fans invaded the playing field, while the rest ran to one of the stadium's exits, where there was a crowd and a lack of air. It is not surprising that this situation has happened, since the stadium has a capacity of 38,000 people and 42,000 tickets were sold for the event.

It is that crowds have become a recurring and unfortunately fatal event, on some occasions, in stadiums. This is a concern that cannot continue to be indifferent to the sports authorities, as it exposes fans to more unfortunate events such as what happened in Indonesia.

We must remember, for example, the crowds that occurred in the last Champions League final, when Liverpool faced Real Madrid. The match was delayed by more than 35 minutes after Liverpool fans struggled to get into the Stade de France and French police used tear gas against fans held in tight areas. Photos have been leaked showing fans crowded into fenced off areas, with many reporting poor communication with security.

What Can Be Done to Avoid These Scenarios?

There are various levels of action that must be taken in various areas. On the part of the police, greater care and restraint must be taken with the use of weapons such as tear gas against fans. Its disproportionate use can cause respiratory problems, as in the case of Indonesia. Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said tear gas should “only be used to disperse crowds when widespread violence has occurred and when other methods have failed.”

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On the other hand, fans must also do their part to prevent these types of events from happening again. In addition to not buying fake tickets, they should avoid panic and take into account certain actions that could help save lives in the event of a greater crowding. Among these are:

  • Avoid getting up against walls and solid objects.
  • Move with the crowd, without pushing.
  • Try to help others instead of imposing on them.
  • Stay on your feet and do not leave any item that could cause falls on the floor.

Finally, it is worthwhile that it is the obligation of the organizers of the event to have a level of security that suits the needs of the crowd. Many fans reported that security in Indonesia was poor and inadequate, and that he was not present during the time of the stampede. Similarly, the security guards were conspicuous by their absence in the last Champions League final. Security cannot be limited to a violent intervention by the police.

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