The first Arab country to host the World Cup has already begun working with several police agencies across the world
The Euro 2016 held in France last year saw the English and Russian fan groups clash before and after the group game in Marseille . Two nights before the match saw clashes across the French city while as soon as the full-time whistle blew, ultras from the Russian end1 made their way towards England supporters and began throwing punches and kicks. Nasser Al Khater, Assistant General Secretary for Tournament Affairs for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, stated that the State of Qatar has already begun working on a plan in order to deal with hooliganism at the 2022 World Cup. He went on to mention that Qatar is engaged in conversations with police agencies from various countries and are preparing a list of people who have had a notorious background.
Every tournament has its risks and this is typical with any major event . As long as we have a robust security and safety plan, you are able to minimize destruction as much as possible .
The good thing is that we have started working early . We have started working with Interpol (International Police Organisation) and ICSS (International Centre for Sport Security) from very early on.
What s good is that we work with security and police forces of various countries that have a large database of people who have created trouble in the past . We are fortunate that the information sharing is taking place . We hope to minimise the people who in the past have caused trouble, from being involved in the World Cup . I think that s an important thing that we shouldn t ignore, he answered to a query on how Qatar will deal with hooligan culture. Probably for the first time in the history, one of the venues is ready more than five years before the World Cup kicks-off.
There was never a World Cup which had 12 year lead time also ! I think Khalifa s refurbishment is not just for the World Cup as it will host the 2019 s World Athletics Championship .
We will have stadiums ready relatively early as compared to other World Cups . We have a deadline of 2020, said Khater.
Asia will host only its second World Cup in 2022 and Khater opines that football in the world s largest continent is very much on the rise both from a technical and investment standpoint.
I think it s going with the trend . I think Asian football is rising . It is becoming more competitive . There is a lot of investment from Asia especially from China in football . Technically too, the football is improving . It will be 20 years since Asia last hosted the World Cup . So it will be a source of immense joy and pride for the people of the region and Qatar, he mentioned.
The World Cup in Qatar will be a different experience for fans as for the very first time it is being hosted in a country where each venue isn t very far from the other . Commuting will not be a challenge as a fan can just hop into a metro and enjoy the greatest footballing extravaganza.
Look obviously, our slogan was Expect amazing . We wanted to be true to that but also we promised an innovative World Cup . I think we are sticking to that promise as well . The amount of research going into this World Cup is immense . We have a new type of signature grass that is made for the region . We have the solar fuelled helmets, the cooling vests and the stadium alert system.
There is a weather station at the construction sites too . If the temperature goes beyond a certain point, the alarm goes on and the workers stop working .
Because of the heat in Qatar after a certain temperature the work has to stop . It used to be done manually but now this one is completely automated . To answer your question, yes there was a drive . We wanted to be innovative and there was a drive to be sustainable . There was a drive to develop spot beyond just football, he signed off.
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The president s plane, Air Force One, touched down in Nairobi just after 8pm local time . The airport s domestic terminal was shut down for the arrival and patrolled by US marines, CIA and secret service agents and Kenyan soldiers.
Obama was greeted by Kenya s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, ahead of a weekend that includes an international business summit, state dinner and public address.
Kenya is treating the visit as a chance to shine, akin to hosting an Olympics or football World Cup, and is well aware how catastrophic another terrorist attack would be for its image . Three months ago Islamist militants murdered 148 people at a university in Garissa2, while 67 people died in an attack on Nairobi s Westgate shopping mall3 less than two years ago.
An Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, usually stationed at the US military base in Djibouti, flew over Nairobi this week alongside a White Hawk helicopter with presidential insignia, Agence France-Presse reported .
Other military helicopters have been flown in reportedly from a US special forces facility at Kenya s Manda Bay base, from which raids on al-Shabaab militants in Somalia are launched.
Nairobi is seen as the second-most important US embassy in the world after Moscow because of Somalia and its proximity to the Middle East, an American source said . There are so many missions going on that we don t even hear about.
Kenya s civil aviation authority said national airspace would be closed for 50 minutes on arrival and 40 minutes on departure, inadvertently revealing the schedule of the president, who will travel without his family.
Obama will be chauffeured in his bombproof limousine, nicknamed the Beast . The $1.5m ( 970,000) car has 20cm-thick steel plates, 13cm-thick bulletproof glass, Kevlar-reinforced tyres and a presidential blood bank in the boot.
Around 10,000 police officers roughly a quarter of the national force were being deployed in the capital and several major roads would be closed to all but emergency and security vehicles .
The move prompted many people to stay at home and numerous banks and schools to shut early on Friday.
Evans Kidero, governor of Nairobi county, said: Security is visible and invisible . It s something we ve been working on.
Kidero s belated attempt to beautify the city by planting grass has been mocked on social media, with Twitter users adopting the hashtag #KideroGrass5 . In African culture when you re receiving an important visitor, when your in-laws are coming, the house must be spruced, he said.
Security concerns are thought to have played a part in the decision for Obama not to travel to his father s grave and meet family members in the village of K Ogelo .
His father s half-brother, Said Obama, 49, said: I would have wished that he visit here but to me the most important fact is he s coming to Kenya . He s wearing several hats: he s a family member and he s the president of the US . I know if he doesn t come to K Ogelo, his spirit will be there with us.
Obama talked recently about the heavy security restrictions compared with previous trips to his ancestral home, most recently as a senator in 2006 .
I will be honest with you, visiting Kenya as a private citizen is probably more meaningful to me than visiting as president, because I can actually get outside of the hotel room or a conference centre, he said.
The 53-year-old president, who once shot down conspiracy theories that he had actually been born in Kenya by publicly producing his birth certificate from Hawaii6, will spend time with family members who have travelled to Nairobi, including his step-grandmother Sarah.
Securing the tour is uncharted territory since no sitting US president has previously visited Kenya or Ethiopia, where Obama flies tomorrow . Both are seen as vital allies in the African theatre of the war on terror .
At Nairobi s state house, where the Kenyan and US flags currently fly alongside bunting, Kenyatta highlighted the threat.
Our country has endured the attacks of depraved, ideological criminals, he said . We have fought them unrelentingly, and they know, as well as we do, that they will lose .
Kenyatta said there was very close cooperation with the US and the fight against terror will be central to his scheduled meeting with Obama, who is expected to visit the site of al-Qaida s 1998 bombing of the US embassy.
- ^ Barack Obama (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ university in Garissa (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ Westgate shopping mall (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ Kenya (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ #KideroGrass (twitter.com)
- ^ birth certificate from Hawaii (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ hotbed of terror (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ #SomeoneTellCNN (twitter.com)
Presidential tours are always expensive, but especially so when the country being visited is, like Kenya, the scene of regular terrorist attacks.
“The American president is a high value target so an attack, or even an attempt, would raise the profile of Shebab,” warned Richard Tutah, a Nairobi-based security and terrorism expert.
Mitigating that is an overwhelming security presence in the capital. “The level of security is suffocating,” said Abdullahi Halakhe, a regional security analyst.
The closely-held details of the security arrangements for the three-day visit are a source of endless fascination and speculation in the Kenyan media.
“US President Obama’s Security Gadgets Arrive,” read the headline in The Star, a tabloid with a talent for Kenyan security scoops.
“A US military cargo plane.. . will ferry in a whole range of secure advanced communications equipment, some of it to be used by President Obama himself when he lands,” the paper breathlessly reported.
Hundreds of American security personnel have arrived in Kenya in recent weeks . Kenyan media reports that three hotels — the Sankara, Villa Rosa Kempinski and Intercontinental — have been scouted by the Secret Service.
– The Beast –
This week the distinctive Osprey tilt-rotor aircrafts, usually stationed at the US military base in Djibouti, flew over Nairobi alongside a White Hawk chopper with presidential insignia, causing much excitement on social media.
Other military helicopters have been flown in reportedly from a US Special Forces facility at Kenya’s Manda Bay base, which serves as a launchpad for raids on Shebab in Somalia.
Kenya is also playing its part .
Nairobi’s police commander Benson Kibue said on Wednesday that 10,000 police officers — roughly one quarter of the entire national force — would be deployed to the capital.
Kibue also said that a series of main roads would be closed on Friday and Saturday, in a move that will paralyse the traffic-clogged city.
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority announced that national airspace will be closed for 50-minutes on arrival and 40-minutes on departure, unwittingly publicising the exact dates and timings of Obama’s travel.
Kenya and Islamic extremism have been entwined since 1998 when Al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy in Nairobi.
While in capital, Obama is expected to travel in his bespoke, bomb-proof limousine, nicknamed ‘The Beast’.
The $1.5 million car is a moving fortress with eight-inch thick steel plates, five-inch thick bulletproof glass, Kevlar-reinforced tyres, and a presidential blood bank in the boot.
The Beast is one of as many as 60 vehicles flown into Kenya for the visit, Kenya Airports Authority officials told The Standard newspaper, as snapped photos of the vehicles arriving on cargo planes were shared on social media.
– Fight against terror –
Obama’s three-nation tour of Africa in 2013 was estimated to have cost between $60-100 million.
A planning memo leaked to the Washington Post revealed that security measures for the visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania included a navy aircraft carrier moored offshore, fighter jets providing 24-hour air cover, more than a dozen armoured limousines flown in and sheets of bulletproof glass imported to protect the hotels where he stayed.
Bill Clinton’s 1998 six-nation Africa tour cost $42.8 million — not including Secret Service expenses which were classified — according to the US Government Accountability Office.
Three-quarters of those costs were incurred by the Department of Defence which flew 98 airlift missions taking equipment to Africa for the tour.
No US president has ever visited Kenya which, along with its neighbour Ethiopia — also due a presidential visit on this tour — is a crucial ally in fighting Islamic extremism emanating from Somalia.
The Shebab has proved itself adept at launching low-tech assaults on soft targets such as Nairobi’s Westgate mall in 2013, Garissa’s university in April and small towns on Kenya’s coast, but it has failed to emulate the terrorist spectacular of 1998.
Obama is expected to visit the Nairobi bomb site during the Kenya leg of his trip.
In a televised address on Wednesday, ahead of Obama’s visit, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the threat posed by terrorists.
“Our country has endured the attacks of depraved, ideological criminals,” he said. “We have fought them unrelentingly, and they know, as well as we do, that they will lose.”
Kenyatta added that there is “very close cooperation” with the United States and “the fight against terror will be central” to his scheduled meeting with Obama.
In a press conference in Washington this month Obama bemoaned the heavy security restrictions during his visit to Kenya, his father’s homeland.
“I will be honest with you, visiting Kenya as a private citizen is probably more meaningful to me than visiting as president, because I can actually get outside of the hotel room or a conference centre,” Obama said.