World Cup security: Preparing for the unexpected
Security veteran Bill Besse details the complex planning that goes into protecting a client at the world's largest sporting event
By Joan Goodchild , Senior Editor
June 07, 2010 — CSO —
The FIFA World Cup games kick off on June 11 in South Africa. One of the largest sporting events in the world, it features multiple games occurring across numerous cities, posing myriad logistical and communication challenges in an already volatile, high crime area.
So what's the biggest challenge in protecting World Cup attendees? Willam Besse says it's probably not what you think.
Besse is vice president, consulting & investigations, with security and risk mitigation company Andrews International; he is the former CSO of Belo Corp. and has played a role in past security planning for the Olympics held in Athens, Torino and Beijing. Besse is now spearheading efforts for a large Andrews client who is attending the World Cup and hosting events throughout the month. Besse spoke with CSO about the issues surrounding plans for client security and the unexpected event that concerns him most.
CSO: You're involved with the security arrangements for a large client who is participating in some way with the World Cup. What kind of work have you been doing to prepare for the event?
Besse: Preparations started that over a year ago when the client did an event in Istanbul, Turkey. Part of the event was moving the World Cup from its home in Zurich, Switzerland to a special event being hosted by this client in Istanbul.
Amazingly, the logistics of moving that sports icon, one of the most recognized sports icons on the face of the Earth, was complex. Outside of the United States people want to see it, touch it. Moving it became more complex than we thought it was going to be. It travels and people travel with it. It has its own special case and rules about how it is to be secured and stored.
Our client is deeply involved in the World Cup and we have been helping them plan with logistics for having a large number of people associated within their organization and associated with their organization traveling from all over the world to South Africa to attend the World Cup event, which is a month-long event.
In contrast to the Super Bowl, which is certainly a world event, but it's a week and involves two teams, the World Cup is a month and involves 32 teams at 12 or 13 stadiums. Some of these venues are near 100,000 capacity. When you put the events side by side, the World Cup is the largest sporting event that exists right now.