Close-up: Dr. Christian Hockenjos (Director of Organisation) and Kai Ruben (Security Manager) at Borussia Dortmund

In the run-up to the ESSMA Safety Management Workshop that will be organised in Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park from 7 to 8 November, ESSMA interviewed two of the Borussia Dortmund hosts: Dr. Christian Hockenjos (Director of Organisation) and Kai Ruben (Security Manager). Both of them are profoundly involved in Borussia Dortmund’s match day operations and are the ideal experts to talk to when it comes to safety management at Germany’s largest football stadium.

Borussia Dortmund have their own stewards, what is the philosophy behind this?

The BVB Stewarding Service has now been around for nearly 30 years. No contractor can bring along this wealth of experience and local knowledge of the stadium. In addition to this, there is also the high level of identification with the club. Our stewards are not contractors, but colleagues. 

How is the communication between different services (stewards, police, video operators), both inside and outside the stadium coordinated?

We have a digital radio system, with various different channels (e.g. Stewarding Service, technical support, cleaning, catering, etc.). Furthermore, the authorities (Police, Fire Brigade, German Red Cross) get a radio on every match day, so they can make direct contact with the Security Officer or the Event Manager. Additionally, all of the organisations involved in safety and security have their control centres right next to each other. This enables information to be exchanged quickly.

How did the bombing incident affect the pre-match day organisation inside and around the stadium?

The attack happened after the stadium had been opened. Because of this everything was prepared and ready to go in the stadium. The first few fans were already in the stadium. Once the news had got around, far fewer fans came to the stadium than would normally be the case. Once it was decided that the match should take place the next day, we had to re-organise a match in less than 24 hours. The biggest challenges this presented were in arranging staff with all of the contractors, sorting out deliveries for the catering and most of all ensuring that the safety requirements were covered. 

Since the threat of terror attacks, a lot of stadiums are organising body searches, is this also the case at Signal Iduna Park?

Checks on people and bags have always been carried out in the Signal Iduna Park, even before the threats. However, we have stepped up procedures significantly. For example, we brought in a new bag policy and purchased walkthrough metal detectors and hand-held scanning wands. We put in place stricter rules on access for “non-match days”, as well as tighter search procedures for the stadium before the doors could be opened on match days.

The key to it all “working” is the high number of season tickets and the predictable crowd behaviour this brings with it.

The gates towards Gelbe Wand are hosting a large amount of fans, how is the screening process being done? What is being developed to ensure a proper flow of people inside the Gelbe Wand?

We check the accesses to the individual blocks just like all of the other blocks. Hence any fan has to show his entrance ticket. In addition, we monitor the concourse outside the ground, to check that no illegal ticket sales are happening here. No queues form at the entrances to the blocks. Specific checks are not required. We evaluate the pictures from each of the blocks regularly and up to now we have never identified an occasion when the official capacity has been exceeded. Due to the high number of season tickets, the crowd flow in the stands is also predictable. The fans almost always stand in the same spot (their “usual place”). In addition, we also review our access control system constantly and so we know that at any given game there are a certain number of season ticket holders, who are not there for that particular match.

We don’t have any anomalies. The key to it all “working” is the high number of season tickets and the predictable crowd behaviour this brings with it. If the first aid service needs to be called in, the fans automatically form an emergency gangway. This is supported by the stewards. 

Interested to hear more about safety management at Signal Iduna Park? Meet the Borussia Dortmund staff at the ESSMA Safety Management Workshop (7-8 November 2017).

Posted on 11/10/2017 in: