FIFA official: most football fields in Saudi Arabia ‘unsafe’

According to the official, 80 percent of football grounds in Saudi Arabia are not safe

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A member of FIFA’s safety and security committee has said 80 percent of football fields and stadiums in Saudi Arabia are not safe enough.

Salman al-Namshan told al-Watan daily that the General Presidency of Youth Welfare is neglecting the periodic reports submitted by the Civil Defense authorities regarding safety and security issues.

He noted that FIFA has handed the presidency five safety and security booklets that were never implemented or considered.

Al-Namshan said the Civil Defense has recommended moving the final game between Al-Nasr and Al-Taawon football clubs from the city of Buraidah to Riyadh because the former could not handle the expected large number of spectators.

Al-Nashman pointed out that repeated improvements and upgrading of football fields and stadiums might have caused some serious cracks in their structure.

He asked football spectators not to blame the presidency for moving the game from Buraidah to Riyadh.

He noted that the stadium in Buraidah has only one entrance and exit for spectators and this constituted a great breach of safety and security regulations.

“Popular games usually witness a large number of spectators who normally let out screams and shouts that resemble an earthquake.

“Previous games between Al-Hilal and Al-Nasr clubs have witnessed great damage to seating.”

The presidency should set up a committee to monitor football fields and stadiums and certificates should be issued to those that meet safety standards.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 7, 2014.

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