Many people wonder why Saudi Arabia keeps hosting high-level events like the Spanish and Italian Super Cups. Less than one minute inside King Fahd International Stadium, located in Riyadh, tells you why it makes sense and also exposes the great challenge ahead of the Saudis: Delivering logistical perfection to extremely passionate supporters.
That has been demanding for football executives and decision-makers all over the world many times, but only real field experience can teach valuable lessons. Some of them, painful and traumatic.
We sense the excitement miles away, as the clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid is one of the most eternal rivalries in the world. We see people of all ages rushing into the stadium for the 90 minutes to be remembered forever, a once-in-a-lifetime event, no matter what the final score is.
They don’t mind if they have to see the match standing or sneak glances over other people’s shoulders because there are no seats available, while the danger of shifting into a crisis is always looming.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
In the event of emergency, it’s vital to have the entries and corridors of the stadium empty. This ensures an easy passage of medical teams and is the first step of a successful evacuation, a procedure complex by nature. In a crowd, especially overwhelmed with emotions and adrenaline, even a simple fall can put various lives at risk.
However, big crowds mean more significant challenges in terms of access, whether coming in or out of the stadium – which is also an important criteria when a Saudi bid for a massive competition is on the table. If traffic jams had an easy solution, all the cities would have it, but a matchday requests an operation to make the journey as practical as possible for fans and workers.
The long lines, the lack of information and the constant back-and-forth are problems any organiser wants to avoid to achieve the best of both worlds: A euphoric crowd safely flowing.
Credit: Ana Luísa Magalhães – AIPS Young Reporter – Portugal