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Wits' Ferreira hopes new manual can resolve PSL stadium security issues

05 August 2017 - 11:20 By Marc Strydom
Coach Gavin Hunt of Wits with CEO Jose Ferreira and George Mokgotsi of Wits during the Bidvest Wits press conference and kit launch at Wits Sports Conference Centre, Sturrock Park on August 01, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Coach Gavin Hunt of Wits with CEO Jose Ferreira and George Mokgotsi of Wits during the Bidvest Wits press conference and kit launch at Wits Sports Conference Centre, Sturrock Park on August 01, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

Bidvest Wits CEO Jose Ferreira admits that the Premier Soccer League has a security issue‚ but said he hopes a new stadium security compliance manual will go a long way to resolving that.

Ferreira‚ also a member of the PSL’s executive committee (exco)‚ said the new manual comes into effect in the coming season.

The 2016-17 season was marked by too many incidents of unruliness where there were injuries in PSL stadiums.

Most notable was the pitch invasion during Mamelodi Sundowns’ 6-0 thrashing of Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld in February‚ where fights broke out‚ property was damaged‚ and fans were treated for injuries.

Warnings were made in the media that PSL security standards appeared to have slipped‚ and lives might be lost.

In last weekend’s Carling Black Label preseason match to the 2017-18 season between Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates two fans lost their lives in a stampede outside FNB Stadium.

Ferreira admitted for a league battling low attendances‚ such occurrences could be disastrous. Most importantly‚ lives should not be lost in football stadiums.

But the PSL‚ Ferreira said‚ have had stadium security as a focus for some time‚ aimed at bringing standards in line with the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (Sasrea) of 2010.

“I joined the exco in November and we meet at the very least once a month. In fact‚ over the last six months we’ve met twice‚ sometimes three times a month‚” the Wits CEO said.

“And the focus by the exco has been almost exclusively – and from well prior to the Sundowns-Pirates game – on security. Compliance issues from the stadium safety point of view because of the Sasrea Act.

“We as a league need to look at‚ and now I’m speaking as an exco member‚ becoming fully compliant with the Sasrea Act.

“It’s very onerous act. There are lots of obligations from clubs in terms of hosting football matches. And we’ve been working right across‚ over the last six months‚ on these issues.

“The PSL just finalised a workshop last week precisely on the issues of safety at stadiums.

“I know now‚ as Bidvest Wits‚ we’re putting more security than what is required by the PSL‚ because we take it seriously. But I agree – it’s something that needs to be tackled even more aggressively.

“We welcome the proposal by Chiefs and Pirates to have an independent commission of inquiry led by a senior counsel to investigate (the Carling stampede).”

For observers‚ fears have been that since a tightening of standards in line with the recommendations of the Ngoepe Commission that followed the Ellis Park disaster of 2001‚ standards have slipped.

“I don’t think that things have weakened. And particularly now with the new act‚” Ferreira said.

“We’ve tightened up as PSL with the new stadium compliance manual and safety and security manual.

“These are demands that are there from Caf and Fifa. And we’ve followed their guidelines and made even more guidelines.

“There’s a lot of work that’s been put into that. It’s just so very tragic what happened on Saturday.

“Let’s hope that the new manual (coming into effect in the 2017-18 season) will ensure that these kinds of things won’t take place.”

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