By Dixon Okello
With the start of the second round of the Uganda Premier League and the new rugby season, the safety and security of fans is of paramount importance.
To be clear, pitch invasions (when fans run onto the pitch usually at the end of the match in order to celebrate or protest) are wrong, but there is a difference between a pitch invasion and joyful celebrations momentarily spilling over the white line and on to the pitch – and that is where a bit of common sense is needed.
It is always interesting to watch the reaction of stewards and police officers, when a goal is scored. I usually see fear, anger, aggression, sometimes panic. For many, it seems the overriding desire is to stop a perfectly normal and natural human reaction to a rare event, rather than taking a few steps back, a few deep breaths, remaining calm, and observing and giving half a minute for things to calm down.
When a team scores, in the first minute, last minute, last minute of injury time or any time. There are about 30 seconds of ecstasy, exuberance, jumping around, hugging people you would never hug anywhere else. It is accompanied by smiles, laughter, singing.
And the crowd almost always will calm down, especially where the situation isn’t aggravated by stewards and police officers diving in and unnecessarily intervening. When players go to their own fans to celebrate, don’t worry – there’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure none gets to the pitch. The fans will be safely back in their seats in a minute, and the players will be getting on with the game.
The writer is a Certified FIFA and CAF Safety and security officer as well as UK level 7 Crowd Management Expert.