KOCHI: The FIFA decision to restrict the spectator numbers to as low as 29,000 may have dashed the hopes of thousands of football fans in Kerala. But it is to ensure an unprecedented security cover for them, officers aver.
Consider this: In the event of an untoward incident, the entire crowd of spectators can be evacuated from the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in a matter of five minutes.
“If there is any mishap or unforeseen incident such as a fire or a stampede, the stadium can be evacuated within five minutes,” a FIFA officer told Express.
“The Kochi Stadium has been under the scanner of FIFA for the past few years and the decision was taken to ensure full security and safety of spectators. FIFA wants all 29,000 spectators to return safely to their homes after watching the matches.”
As many as 3,000 security personnel, including policemen and volunteers, will be deployed in the stadium, virtually making it an impenetrable fortress. City Police Commissioner M P Dinesh said the police have provided a foolproof security cover for the World Cup.
“Sixty-four points of Bomb Detection and Dog Squads have been set up at the stadium and the fans will be allowed to enter the stadium after the security check.
We have constituted an Advance Security Liaison (ASL) to coordinate the activities of various departments. As part of crisis management, we have conducted a mock drill to rescue the spectators and for bomb disposal. The quick reaction team of the police will be ready for tackle any untoward incident at the stadium,” he said.
The organisers had earlier announced they would allow 41,000 people to watch the matches but the number of viewers was cut down drastically for security reasons. The stadium will have access only for 32,000 people, including 3,000 security and FIFA personnel. Tickets have been sold as per this number.
When asked whether the decision to slash the capacity would affect the football market of the state, officers said FIFA’s first priority was the safety of the spectators and that tickets were sold according to a seating capacity of 29,000. The Indian Super League (ISL) football matches, however, had over 50, 000 spectators.
“This is entirely different as around 30,000 of ISL fans were entering with complimentary passes. FIFA has granted only a few complimentary tickets,” said FIFA officers.
Police also announced 10-strict guidelines on things that can be taken inside the stadium and the entry and exit. Bags or even drinking water will not be permitted inside as water and snacks are being arranged inside the stadium.
Torch relay to conclude today
KOCHI: The torch relay and ball run, launched by the state govt to promote FIFA U-17 World Cup, will conclude at the Durbar Hall Ground in Kochi on Friday. The torch relay was launched from Kasargod while the Ball Run had begun at the state capital. Kerala State Sports Council president T P Dasan said that screening of the World Cup matches would be conducted at the ground during the matchdays. Various cultural programmes, as well as competitions, will also be held at the fan park.
Dasan said the Council would hold talks with the All India Football Federation and other stakeholders to launch an elite training scheme in football.
"There is a lot of excitement among the youth with Kerala hosting the World Cup and we need to channel this enthusiasm to results on the field. WIth a view to developing future Olympic medal winners, the Council is launching Operation Olympia in sports disciplines like athletics, badminton etc,” he told reporters here.
Mobiles, remote keys allowed
Commissioner made it clear that the spectators can bring mobile phones and remote keys. Earlier, the organisers had prohibited these materials inside the stadium, which aroused protest from various quarters.
KMRL to extend services till 11.45 pm on match days
KOCHI: In connection with the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Kochi Metro will extend its services to help football fans travel conveniently on match days.
The last train from Maharaja’s station will start at 11.45 pm on October 7, 10, 13,18 and 22 when the matches are played at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kaloor. The last train from Aluva will be at 11 pm. KMRL is also planning to operate extra services from 9 pm on match days.
As a special arrangement at JLN Stadium station, from 7 pm, the entry will be restricted. Passengers can enter the station through entry A and exit only from exit B.
The tickets will be available only at the special counters placed outside the station. People can also buy return journey tickets at the time of buying inward journey tickets so as to avoid waiting in the queue at the time of return journey.