Dubai Thousands of ticketless cricket fans tried to force their way into the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on September 7, but security personnel managed to turn them away and avert a major crisis, XPRESS has learnt.
Andy Haslam, General Manager (Security Services) of ASK International, a private security agency tasked with assisting Dubai Police to provide security at the stadium, said: “There were extraordinary challenges on that day but the security deployment and contingency planning ensured safety was not compromised.”
He said the stadium was packed to capacity with 25,000 people on September 7 when the second T20 match between Pakistan and Australia was held. “It was a complete sell-out and some 3,000 cricket fans weren’t able to secure tickets. They decided that mob rule would get them in, but between ourselves and Dubai Police, we dealt with the threat and cleared the area within 30 minutes. Some people who had tickets were also caught in the melee and could not reach their stands immediately.”
Haslam said the ticketless fans were turned away outside the main entrance itself. “This is the first point of entry where spectators gain access with tickets. The second point is the ticket check and search where spectators are stopped and frisked by Dubai Police. Their tickets are ripped, bags checked and they are directed to the relevant gates where a tertiary check and wrist bands are issued.”
On that manic Friday, he said many of the 220 ASK personnel who were assisting the 80 Dubai Police contingent had to be called from their usual deployments before the match began to perform contingency back-up roles. “The crowd dynamics here are different from those in other countries like the UK. Our security personnel are used to the intensity of the crowds in events like rock concerts or football matches. The passion of cricket supporters this time round took them by surprise.”
Besides the ticketless fans, some spectators inside the stadium also posed a threat when they attempted to invade the pitch. Among them was a young boy who was promptly returned to his parents with a warning. Two other supporters, however, who jumped over the fence and ran in to shake hands with the players were asked to leave the stadium. “This has never happened before. We managed to identify them from our CCTV footage and removed them within 20 minutes,” said Haslam, noting that a total of 164 cameras have been installed in the stadium.
On September 10 when the third T20 match was held, mounted Dubai Police were seen doing the rounds. Haslam said manning the cheaper stands is a challenge because spectators crowd the fence area and the stairways, besides standing on their seats. “We have to constantly tell them to take their seats to prevent a possible toppling down when they get excited. On an average, we remove around 10 people every match after telling them once and warning them a second time.”
He said spectators are not allowed to bring in food or water bottles. “We’ve had instances when people brought in packed lunches, fruit knives, flag poles, but they were all confiscated. Even with water bottles bought inside, caps are not allowed. This prevents two possible hazards that can occur with sealed bottles through tripping or hurling them at someone.”