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South Africa, Security Pros Ready Themselves for the World Cup

By Stephanie Berrong

When the 19th FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa this month, years of security preparations will come into play. The soccer event, which runs from June 11 to July 11, will take place in 10 cities, involve 32 athletic teams, and be watched by billions of viewers worldwide.

Security issues have been at the forefront since FIFA organizers announced in 2004 that South Africa would be the first African nation to host the popular soccer tournament, which only occurs once every four years. In anticipation of the event, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has purchased equipment, which includes helicopters, mobile command vehicles, body armor, and water cannons. The SAPS also recruited 55,000 new police officers over the past five years. In order to manage crowd control issues, approximately 8,500 police completed a year-long training program with the French National Gendarmerie, which gained relevant experience in crowd management during the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database will be used to check the travel documents of visitors to the country. The database alerts border control guards if a traveler tries to use a fraudulent document with information matching one of the nearly 20 million stolen or lost travel documents that have been reported by agencies in 147 member countries.

INTERPOL has also developed a Dangerous and Disruptive Persons list for use by South Africa during the tournament. That database will help the border control authorities identify travelers who have a record of being involved in organized crime or who are known as one of the infamous “football hooligans.”

(To read the rest of "World Cup Security in Play" from the June 2010 issue of Security Management, click here.)

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