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Making sport safe and sound in the UAE

French expert Olszewski teams up with Dubai Police prior to start of new season

Image Credit: Supplied
Richard Olszewski
Gulf News

Dubai: A top risk management specialist from Europe has teamed up with Dubai Police to ensure that the “new complications of values in modern-day society” do not tarnish the safe image of sport in the UAE.

“From my experience of working in Europe it is an acceptable norm that society is becoming more and more complicated, and this in turn has infiltrated normal living and values. The end result is that a manager who holds a position in a bank for six days of the week turns into a hooligan during a football match on the weekend,” Richard Olszewski, of Topnap Consulting WLL, told Gulf News here.

As a Vice-President of the highly-respected European Forum for Urban Safety, Olszewski has overseen risk management at some of the biggest sports events around the world, including Euro 2012 and the recent London Olympics and Paralympics.

“The accepted fact of sports today is that we have more and more normal people turning into hooligans for one day and that happens at a football match on a Saturday. They are perfectly normal during the remainder of the week, doing normal jobs. But on a Saturday the person becomes crazy when he turns into a fan,” Olszewski said.

With the football season scheduled to get under way in the UAE shortly, Dubai Police invited all clubs and its key risk management personnel to participate in a two-day seminar run by Olszewski at the Dubai Police Officers’ Club. “We have more and more people who are one-day fans. They want to fight the police and do all the wrong things. They evolve into another person altogether, and it is but normal to have such behaviour stemmed at the outset instead of allowing it to ruin the image of sport,” he added.

However, given the fledgling Pro League that is being held in the UAE, Olszewski is convinced that adequate measures can be implemented to bring out maximum entertainment and enjoyment to the UAE fans.

“I doubt the UAE has to deal with a complexity like fans belonging to a sectarian group or political organisation wanting to settle scores with the police or the government. But that does not mean we have to ignore issues,” he said.

The Colonel with the Gendarmerie Nationale (French National Police) said the best way of addressing the growing instances of crowd trouble at major sporting events is the use of modern technology in and around stadia.

“My experience tells me that you can never go wrong with the use of the latest electronic methods, particularly the use of closed-circuit television. We first need electronic means and then we need human strategy. It then gets complex where we try to infiltrate the mind of a fan, because the fan is no longer just a fan but someone there to settle scores on behalf of someone else,” Olszewski said.