Exclusive: CAF to train 1125 experts to curb football violence, hooliganism in Africa, says Dr. Emeruwa

In a no-holds-barred interview with PerSecondNews sports correspondent, Emeruwa revealed the internal skill set and initiatives CAF is introducing to reduce fan violence, as well as plans for the next African Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.


Football has united Africans more than any summit ever held on the continent, football has brought Africans together, but the scourge of football hooliganism has threatened the beautiful game over the years, according to a CAF official.

Dr. Christian Emeruwa, the Head of the Confederation of African Football Security and Safety Department said some strategies have been put in place by the continental football governing body to curb crowd violence and strengthen stadium security.

In a no-holds-barred interview with PerSecondNews sports correspondent, Emeruwa revealed the internal skill set and initiatives CAF is introducing to reduce fan violence, as well as plans for the next African Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.

Emeruwa, who is also a FIFA security officer, boasts a proven track record in safety and security matters at match venues across the globe.

Before his appointment, the doctorate degree holder in health education and human kinetics had served as a special assistant to three successive Nigeria Football Federation’s General Secretaries and coordinated safety and security issues at a number of matches and competitions for CAF and the world’s football governing body.

PSN: What was your mandate as the CAF’s first Head of Safety and Security?

Dr. Emeruwa: “CAF Security and Safety Department started in February 2019, the mandate of the department was to turn around the security situation across the continent, starting with CAF competition and tournaments, and also to support and improve member countries during tournaments and championships in their countries.

“We started in 2019 without having any experts that are trained in safety and security during matches in Africa; between November 2019 and till date, we have trained 1125 security experts in Africa.

“We just kick-started the “CAF Safe Stadium Initiative,” an initiative in which you will see CAF committing to training 40 people in each member country. The people will comprise one security official from each of the clubs in the elite league of the country, as well as members of the security commission of the federation and the police command that assist during national team games.

“Between the third and fourth of this month, we have spoken to all the presidents and secretary generals of all 54 member associations of CAF. We are looking at screening over 2000 people in the next couple of months to see if we are able to cover the whole 54 countries this year.

“Don’t forget that in the past 64 years or so, CAF has been organizing tournaments without an organised security department. The testament to our work so far was on display during the last AFCON in Ivory Coast, where we trained over 461 officers to ensure safety all through the championship.

“CAF understands the lack of manpower within the continent and had to do everything within its powers to push this knowledge across the member countries. These 40 persons we are about to train will also be empowered to train security officers in their domain.

“We will empower them to train the police and other agencies that are involved during match days because conventional policing is totally different when handling stadium security operations.

PSN: During the CAF Confederation Cup Final, there was a breach of security. What happened?

Dr. Emeruwa: “This was an incident during the Confederation Cup finals. Don’t forget the final is a two-legged final, and the clubs are responsible for security management. We from CAF come in to give support.

“If the club doesn’t have proper security arrangements, it will show. This is why we are going to member countries to train capacity. There are also certain things we are doing internally to ensure we have full control of security during CAF Club Championships.

“Look at the match between Zamalek and Al-Ahly, which was the week after in the same stadium in the same country, and everything went very well. We didn’t do anything exceptional; the same advice and recommendations were given, but different results. Lack of capacity is a gap we intend to breach with the CAF Safe Stadium Initiative.

“I felt very bad as a person because we have long passed this stage. To see such experience in our final was not a good sight, but you have to understand that this is what you get when you go to a country that has not won a trophy for a very long time and doesn’t have the skill set to manage such high-profile games.”

PSN: What are the plans for securing Morocco by 2025?

Dr. Emeruwa: “Our motto still remains that the tournament and stadiums are safe for fans or those who have one thing or another to do in the stadium legitimately.

“Every country is unique, and every tournament is unique. I can assure you that we have started working with the local authorities to see how we can support each other in ensuring that we achieve one of the most secured championships ever. We want to keep raising the bar; this is what the department is poised to do.

“We assure everyone that would be attending the championship that their safety is top priority, and we at CAF are taking security into prime consideration as we plan for the championship.”

PSN: The NPFL’s security is porous. Are you bothered as a Nigerian?

“I spoke with the chairman of the NPFL and urged him to submit the list of participating club security officials for the CAF initiative, which he assured me he would do.

“I also called the NFF President and brought him up to speed with the CAF Safe Stadium Initiative; he embraced it and assured Nigeria’s full participation.

“Not just Nigeria is facing this dilemma; a couple of weeks ago, we had issues with the league in Tunisia and Algeria; it’s the same issue everywhere.

“Hence, the need we are going directly to member countries to provide the required knowledge and skill set to advance security and safety in our stadiums.”

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