Coordinating effective crowd management at sports fixtures

It’s widely known that sports matches can become incredibly overcrowded and rowdy. While each stadium and venue has a maximum capacity, it’s not always as simple as adhering to this. Fans can often be notorious for sneaking through the barriers for important games, making the overflow of people difficult to deal with.

The most extreme historical case of sporting overcrowding is the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster, where an influx of fans caused immense overcrowding, resulting in 97 fatalities in total.

This harrowing event serves as a strong reminder of the importance of upholding stadium health and safety on match days at all times.

In this article, we explore a few top tips on how to effectively coordinate crowd management at sporting fixtures.

Streamline Communication

Communication is key when it comes to maintaining stadium safety. It’s vital that threats and hazards are identified quickly and flagged to lower level marshals and senior leaders using radios. The faster the action is taken, the sooner the risk can be resolved before it escalates. This can be reporting something as simple as a spillage, which becomes a slip hazard, to something more sinister such as fights breaking out between fans or overcrowding due to non-ticket holders bypassing the barriers.

Ensure staff are visible

Safety marshals need to be visible at all times, allowing anyone who requires assistance to easily find them quickly within the crowds. The use of high-vis clothing instantly enables both staff and stadium visitors to easily identify marshals as the designated officials for crowd control. Hi-vis clothing should be colour categorised on the day of an event, to make it easier to distinguish the appropriate staff member required. For example, crowd controllers could wear orange vests, while first-aiders could wear green ones.

Brief all staff thoroughly before an event

All staff members must be briefed on how to deal with emergencies on matchday. This can be anything from general first-aid accidents to overcrowding, or even fights breaking out between fans when the game is over. Knowing the official protocol in any of these situations helps to contain situations quickly, preventing them from escalating further.

Stay alert

Vigilance is paramount when it comes to crowd safety. Any large-scale event with thousands of attendees always leads to a heightened chance of risk. That’s why all staff members must remain alert at all times. It’s not uncommon to lose focus if things get quiet, but an incident can occur at any time so concentration must be upheld throughout the event from start to finish – until every visitor has safely departed the event.