EUAM Iraq Hosts High-Level Seminar on Enhancing Football Security in Iraq

EUAM Iraq, in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and the Iraqi Football Association League, organised the Major Event Seminar: Together to strengthen and improve football security in Iraq. This significant event brought together commanders and senior officers from the Iraqi police, security services, authorities, and various stakeholders from Baghdad, Basrah and the Kurdistan region of Iraq. 

The high-level seminar focused on illustrating new EU standards for safety and security, with a special emphasis on managing the Zone Ex areas (the outer perimeter around the stadiums) during international sports events. These discussions will greatly benefit the Iraqi partners by enhancing their ability to manage international sports events more effectively, particularly in terms of safety and security. 

Over 150 senior security staff from across Iraq attended this seminar. This event marked another milestone in the ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Interior as the EUAM Iraq Deputy Head of Mission emphasised in his opening speech:  

“This seminar is one in a series of events EUAM has supported the Ministry with in the past two years on the topic of managing major events, especially major international football matches and tournaments. To date, EUAM has conducted workshops in Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah to spread the message about the safe conduct of football matches according to international standards. Ensuring that major tournaments are held in a manner where the fans feel safe throughout the event is important not just for commercial reasons, but it is an essential Duty of Care. As Iraq will increasingly see larger sports tournaments that draw crowds from across the region and beyond, this Duty of Care becomes a crucial protector of Iraq’s international reputation.” 

EUAM Iraq's Senior Strategic Adviser, Peter Tholstrup-Jorgensen added: “The challenge of handling large crowds is a known challenge throughout the world and there is no single solution to this challenge. But by evaluating previous international experiences and building on already established strategic concepts for handling large crowds, we help to create a better and safer framework for the running of large sporting events. 

The day concluded with a dynamic panel discussion involving three keynote speakers from Denmark specialised in crowd and safety management from Event Safety: Thomas Rydahl, CEO of Event Safety. Sofie Dahl, Head of Consulting at Event Safety. Nick Madsen, Match Manager at DBU (Danish Football Association) joined by Police Colonel Hayder Muhsin, Director of Basra Stadium Security, Mr. Ahmad Qteshat Secretary General of the International Jordanian Athletes Cultural Association, and Brigadier General Ghassan Abdul Ridha Member of the security committee at the Iraq Football Association. 

During the discussion, the subjects addressed included the potential adaptation of European concepts, such as Zone Ex, to enhance safety and security in and around Iraqi football stadiums. The conversation also covered lessons learned from hosting international matches in both Iraq and the EU, highlighting the challenges and successes in these regions. Additionally, potential risk scenarios in major global sporting events were examined, emphasising the importance of proactive measures and international cooperation to address these challenges effectively. 

This collaborative effort marks a significant stride in ensuring that sporting events in Iraq meet global standards of safety and management, laying the groundwork for future success in the field of sports security. Together, we are strengthening and improving football security in Iraq. 

Voices from participants: 


Brigadier General Anmar Amer Abbas Al-Khazraji, Director of Stadium Security in Baghdad, said: 

“This event is very important, and we were pleased to attend due to its significance and the valuable insights it provided. The new information regarding Zone Ex and its management was particularly beneficial. 

We must commend the valuable insights gained from the workshops provided by the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq, which shared exemplary European practices adapted to suit the Iraqi context. 

One of the most crucial aspects that enhanced our performance in stadiums was improved strategic planning. This contributed significantly to the development of crowd management at major sporting events, ensuring that human rights considerations were integrated into the implementation of these plans.” 


Police Colonel Haider Mohsen Qasim, Director of Basra Stadium Security, stated: 

“The information provided by the mission during the previous workshops has greatly improved our performance in managing major sporting events. For instance, we have significantly developed the implementation of FIFA’s international regulations within our Iraqi stadiums, ensuring full adherence to its laws. We extend our gratitude to the mission for sharing their international expertise with us. Additionally, we have become more proficient in managing crowds by correctly dividing the audience in their seating areas, which ensures a safer environment and reduces the risk of potential riots inside the stadium.” 


Jurist Major General Kaka Rash Omar - President of the Court and Internal Security Forces and Director of Coordination of the Ministry of Interior in the Kurdistan Region said: 

“By sharing their international expertise, the mission’s role was very important in developing our performance in managing security and safety inside Iraqi stadiums. Our performance developed through the planning process for sporting events and their management at a high levelorganising the entry and exit of crowds has now become safer and smoother, and we have also introduced the use of VAR technology during matches in accordance with international standards. After gaining knowledge from EAUM’s workshops, we have successfully developed a set of instructions, regulations, and prohibitions’ instructions inside our stadiums”. 


Brigadier General Fakhri Ahmed, Dohuk Governorate Police Commander, stated: 

“This type of event is very important because of the valuable information, solutions, and shared experiences that were presented. The most important topic discussed was how to manage and organise the outdoor area surrounding the stadium before, during, and after sporting activities (i.e., Zone Ex). This topic will have a positive impact on the Iraqi stadiums during sporting events.” 

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies..