FIFA 'embarrassed' by Chilean fan stampede

A view of overturned furniture and partition walls in the press room of the Maracana stadium after...

A view of overturned furniture and partition walls in the press room of the Maracana stadium after dozens of Chile fans stormed through to watch their country play Spain in a 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match in Rio de Janeiro, June 18, 2014. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:24 PM ET

SAO PAULO, Brazil - FIFA was “embarrassed” by the charge of more than 80 Chilean fans who got through security at Maracana Stadium before Wednesday’s Chile-Spain World Cup game.

FIFA’s right to feel embarrassed. This is one of the world’s major sporting events and somehow a bunch of ticketless fans managed to break down barricades, run over security, invade the stadium press centre and rip down wall dividers. Since there were 1,000 or so journalists within 50-yards of the invasion, there was not lack of press coverage of the event so the world saw the security failure.

FIFA said none of the invaders made it to the seating area, but reports citing witnesses say several made it into the stadium and were lifted into the stands by other spectators.

It was fortunate all they wanted to do was see the game. If one of them had more serious intent things may not have ended well.

There was no mea culpa from those in charge of the security.

Hilario Medeiros, the security manager for the Local Organizing Committee said that “all protocols” had been followed.

How well did the protocols work when they allowed a large group of fans to successfully storm the stadium? Then again, such protocols also led security staff to confiscate such dangerous items as bananas from the media upon entry.

Gianni Merlo, the Italian chairman of the Association Internationale De La Presse Sportive (AIPS), an international sports press association, had a statement read at FIFA’s daily briefing.

“AIPS is aware of concerns raised previously by colleagues concerning thefts from lockers, inadequate catering exacerbated by the petty confiscation of minor items of food and drink and even of a coat hanger which, for the broadcast journalist concerned, counted as professional equipment,” the statement said.”

Organizers did say they confiscated fireworks, knives and assorted sundry items from fans coming into the stadium.

Andrey Passos Rodrigues, FIFA’s extraordinary secretary of security, merely emphasized what FIFA thinks of the press.

“As far as we are concerned no important incidents have taken place,” he said. “There was no fan violence in the stadium.”

Reports say 87 Chilean fans were arrested after the incident and had to leave the country within 72 hours or be deported.

FIFA's security director Ralf Mutschke used the word “embarrassed.”

“I think we have to protect journalists and the media and there's no doubt about it, we also have to protect the fans,” he told reporters at the briefing.

“We had meetings to assess the situation and make sure that this won’t be repeated and I am confident that with the measures discussed we will avoid such an incident again.”

As to exactly what those measures are, he didn’t elaborate.

 


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