SGSA Inspectors in Uruguay

Armed guards escorting match official from the field of play - Uruguay

October saw the SGSA visit Uruguay again in a follow-up to the successful trip earlier in the year, where Inspectors spoke at a conference, engaged with government ministers, football authorities and advised on ways in which Uruguay could tackle crowd violence at matches and the poor standards at existing sports grounds; a situation reminiscent of that of the UK twenty five years ago.

Contact between the Uruguayan Sports Minister and the SGSA resulted in this latest visit, designed to kick-off their journey towards the goal of improved standards of safety, ground facilities and ultimately, the spectator experience at venues, in particular for the national game, football. The seven day visit centred on Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city where fourteen of the country’s sixteen first division clubs play and sport’s governing authorities reside. The visit was productive with Martin Girvan and Geoff Galilee delivering an intensive five day Safety Manager Course, attending press conferences and attending two matches involving the leading clubs in order to witness first-hand both operational practices and stadia conditions. The photo above was taken at the end of the Liverpool FC (Montevideo) v Club Athlético Peñarol match and shows Diego Forlan talking to the referee as the routine contingent of fully armed Republican Guard forms to escort the officials off the field of play.

An image showing the current progress of the construction of a 45,000 capacity stadium for Club Athlético Peñarol

The photo above, taken at another visit shows that new building is taking place with the construction of a  45,000 capacity stadium for Club Athlético Peñarol due to open early next year, offering an opportunity for a new start. This is being matched by a large scale redevelopment of the city centre ground of the other leading Uruguayan club Nacional de Football.

The course introduced the forty plus delegates to the concepts and skills that would enable the development of effective management strategies and polices for the management of large-scale public events. The engagement and commitment from the delegates, who were taken from across the industry and agencies, exceeded expectations, especially since the five days included evening sessions on the weekdays as many were working during the day. This was a successful start to a journey that will hopefully develop further over time. The enthusiasm and commitment shown by the course delegates indicates that there is a willingness within Uruguayan sport to move forward and away from its long standing problems of crowd behaviour and management.