The police-led National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) says there was no security incident involving any team or team member attending last week’s FIFA Soccer World Cup draw.
NATJOINTS spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer says one incident of theft was reported from the hotel of a certain team, “but to date no evidence has materialised which could support the allegations and lead to an arrest.”
De Beer says the police incooperation with other government departments “successfully and confidently provided close security details to all teams playing in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and will continue to do so during the FIFA 2010 World Cup.” The teams were “extremely satisfied with the protection provided”.
“During the period leading up to and on the day of the FIFA 2010 World Cup Final Draw the South African Police Service – together with the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] and other law enforcement officers – again successfully policed and secured the event and parallel activities, such as the Long Street Festival.
During the FIFA Confederations Cup the teams and officials in this country were escorted by SAPS members safely and no security incident involving any team or team member occurred. I
De Beer says the police has assigned Team Security Liaison Officers (TSLO’s) and close protectors to each team that has qualified to play in next June’s World Cup.
“The TSLO’s held a seminar with the teams’ representatives last weekend and will continue to liaise with each team on security matters for the duration of the World Cup. Again, all teams seemed satisfied with the security arrangements and no negative comments or opinions were reported,” she says.
Britain’s The Independent yesterday reported many of the nations taking part in the event “will use private security firms – including war-zone specialists who operate in Iraq and Afghanistan – to safeguard their players and officials.”
The paper said – in a report reprinted in local editions of Independent Group newspapers – that sources in the private protection industry say high-profile football associations from Europe and South America have already hired firms that will use ex-military personnel, some of them special forces veterans, to look after players and their families.
“The firms will provide round-the-clock armed bodyguards, bulletproof vehicles, hijack prevention advice and squads that can handle kidnap situations. Kidnap insurance is also offered by some agencies.”
The paper said this was because there were “fears” there could be “gaps in the coverage” provided by the organisers and SA’s security forces based on “lapses at this June’s Confederations Cup, which was effectively a small-scale test event for 2010.
“There was no single major mishap, but some worrying gaps were noted, suggesting there won’t be enough properly trained security at every place they’ll be required,” one unidentified source told the British broadsheet.
“Security contracts weren’t in place until very late, some players had property stolen from hotels, and some fans were victims of crime.
The report noted that FIFA has said it is satisfied the SA authorities have done all they can to secure the safety of players, officials and fans. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has also previously noted that teams and fans fall prey to criminals in all parts of the world.
De Beer described the article as absurd. “It must be noted that not one person quoted in the article as having misgivings about the security provided for the teams has been identified in the article – all are [unidentified] ‘sources’.”
“The security forces of South Africa have proved over and over again that we are fully prepared to secure major events,” De Beer avered.