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Griffith: Warriors supporters will flow to their seats for WCQ against St Vincent

Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith, who was hired by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) as a security consultant, has promised football fans that the trip to their seats to watch the “Soca Warriors” tackle St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Tuesday March 29 will be a stroll in the park.

Photo: "Soca Warriors" supporter Joey "Posh" Richardson (right) exchanges notes with some football fans during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against the United States on 17 November 2015. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: “Soca Warriors” supporter Joey “Posh” Richardson (right) exchanges notes with some football fans during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against the United States on 17 November 2015.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“It will be a totally different experience to what happened at the USA game,” Griffith told Wired868. “The biggest change is that we will have walk-through scanners, whereas the big problem then was they tried to scan thousands of fans with handheld scanners, which takes about three minutes per person…

“So because of walk-through scanners, it would be a continuous flow of traffic. If someone is red flagged, they will be asked to step aside for a second check. But it wouldn’t stop the stream of traffic.”

Only one of four entrances will be available to ticket holders for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier, which kicks off at 7 pm. However, two of the remaining entrances will be utilised for vendors, media workers, football officials and VIPs.

Griffith, a former Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force captain and security consultant for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) cricket competition, insisted that one entrance was sufficient to shuttle through as many as 20,000 spectators.

“You can look at venues worldwide like in the England Premier League,” said Griffith, who said he attended two Premiership matches in the last year, “and they have four or five gates for 70,000 people. If everyone wants to turn up at 6.45 pm, that is where we will have the concern.

Photo: A Soca Warrior fan enjoys the action between Trinidad and Tobago and Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 27 March 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: A Soca Warrior fan enjoys the action between Trinidad and Tobago and Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 27 March 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“They don’t have to turn up three hours before the game but not with a few minutes to go either. Also, we are asking people to have their tickets in hands and don’t walk with coolers, metallic objects other than the car keys, large knapsacks, firearms and so on.

“These things will ensure that everyone moves quicker.”

Griffith said that, for the first time, there will be a venue operations centre or VOC in place for a World Cup qualifier, which will ensure that the head of each security apparatus is in constant contact with each other in an effort to have a seamless operation.

“I know people have concerns due to the USA game but for the last three weeks we have gone through meticulous security meetings,” said Griffith. “You will be seeing things different to what happened before. For instance, in accordance with FIFA and IOC standards, there will not be a visible presence of law enforcement officers with weapons at the game.

“From 11 am, there will be a lock down of the venue and the entire venue will be sanitised with bomb sweeps and so on. So what you will have (when the gates open at 4 pm on Tuesday evening) is more crowd control than law enforcement, although there would be armed quick reaction units available…

Photo: Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith.
Photo: Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith.

“There are very few police officers that you would see at the game. You will see more match day stewards. This is not a police operation, as (Inspector) Alexander would say.

“And what will make it a success is the venue operations centre or VOC which will be in a box in covered stand and will have the lead person from each agency. So if we need another gate opened somewhere or have to take immediate action, one hand always knows what the other hand is doing.”

Outside of the stadium, fans are on their own, though.

The wrecker will be in operation and is expected to be called upon to penalise motorists who block pathways inside the venue. But, on the streets of the capital, it will be used at the discretion of acting Port of Spain Mayor Keron Valentine.

“I was told that the traffic situation is exactly as it was for the last game,” said Griffith. “So I am not the person to ask about that. I know one of the concerns then was the improvised parking spaces where people were being lured into vacant lots. And then the same people they paid to park were responsible for breaking into their cars.

“So I would ask them to be very careful about using those improvised parking spots.”

Photo: Just over 20,000 Trinidad and Tobago supporters came out to watch the "Women Soca Warriors" face Ecuador in Port of Spain on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Just over 20,000 Trinidad and Tobago supporters came out to watch the “Women Soca Warriors” face Ecuador in Port of Spain on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Nobody at the TTFA was able to give motorists any tips for safe parking either.

Griffith preferred to speak, at length, about his own role in the going-ons at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

“Every single thing will be done to military timing and precision, and the key for us is proper communication and collaboration,” said Griffith. “It isn’t a matter of cutting the numbers (of lawmen) but making sure they will be used in an effective manner. This is not like when they try to fight crime by just throwing forces all over the place without any real structure or responsibilities…

“The safest place to be in Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow evening will be at the national stadium. But we are making sure we also adhere to the policy of the London Olympics, whereas people will be secure but without that frustration (in getting to the event).”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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48 comments

  1. Things that make you go ‘errrghh?’ courtesy Gary:

    1.Only one of four entrances will be available to ticket holders for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier, which kicks off at 7 pm. However, two of the remaining entrances will be utilised for vendors, media workers, football officials and VIPs.
    According to GG: 4-3=4. Gary, you’ve got one entrance extra!

    2. Also, we are asking people to have their tickets in hands and don’t walk with coolers, metallic objects other than the car keys, large knapsacks, firearms and so on.

    According to GG: Walk with your car keys, large knapsacks and firearms. Thank you Gary, now all firearms can see football with their owners.

    3.“From 11 am, there will be a lock down of the venue and the entire venue will be sanitised with bomb sweeps and so on.

    Good thinking GG, but that is old school – though still a worthwhile practice. The IEDs now come in with the crowds. The terrorists do not leave it for hours prior to the event;they bring it with them.

  2. Griffith is realy good at his job. When he was Minister of National Security, I never had any trouble with crowds while walking in and out of Police Stations to report crimes.

    He was also good at being covert, as I only heard him speak about getting rid of the cockroaches, but didn’t see him do anything of lasting substance. Perhaps he could be the security consultant for BOP or Rentokil too?

  3. this is bull crap !!!!! ONE entrance is NOT enough !!!! disaster waiting to happen ….. last game all it would have taken was one idiot to start a problem and dozens would have died ….. we need to be more proactive …. why not use more than one entrance !!!! we have them use them !!!

  4. We are only going to get tickets today. Last matches that Georgie went to, he bought tickets when he was going to the match. Of course now that things are looking up, that could change.

  5. Well said Kirk R TC Walker…only in Trini!!! What a place we live in eh

  6. steups…i went Old Trafford..UTD vz Chelsea..76,000..in in 5 mins..out in 6 mins..also went Dortmund Stadium..Germany vz Poland..78,000 people..in in 5 mins..out in 6 mins..

  7. But seriously – Gary G. is still ah loud mouth, who never seems to make sense. How many EPL teams have stadiums that seat 70K people? I believe Man U has the only stadium that seats above 70K, with Arsenal and Man City are just below that number. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to visit a stadium that is similar in size to the Hasely Crawford stadium to assess how they handle large crowds? Why is the TTFA associating with Mr loud mouth?

  8. Griffith was a part of that ignominious regime which has Trinidad and Tobago in it’s present morass, and had he not been unceremoniously fired by them before the September 07.2015 GE then he would have been with them until we unceremoniously fired them all on said Sept. 07.2015. I’ve stated that important analysis as a backdrop of fact bcause the question begs; aren’t there other qualified professionals of character in our Nation better suited for that consultancy portfolio, so why then is he employed as a consultant for the TTFA?(rhetorical)

  9. If you number the seats then you can’t oversell tickets. ???

  10. I hope all goes well but I am concerned in that I do not see how you can have one scanned entrance for ticket holders but two entrances for vendors, media workers, football officials and VIPs. To me the final decision on the number of scanned entrances for ticket holders should be directly related to the volume of tickets sold. This should already be known as of today. Go SocaWarriors. secure this victory……!!!!!!!

  11. Two minutes will be cutting it close but they just need to number the rows in alphabetical order and the spaces in front of the first row of seats in numerical order and the rest will fall in line.

  12. man…i like to watch my warm ups and body language etc…but i have to come 2 hours before just to get “my seats” and to fight up with crowd etc

  13. But excellent point still Gary. That should be the aim.

  14. You lucky to have seats at all. Those stadium seats barely even have a colour now and some are crumbling.

  15. why in 2016 we cant have NUMBERED SEATS ??..so i can come 2 mins before kick off

  16. Let me check, last game had about 21000 persons?
    Multiply that by 3minutes per person = 63000 minutes to scan everyone
    Use 10 scanners (which it did not have last game) = 6300 minutes per scanner
    So it took approximately 105 hours for everyone to enter the stadium last time ?

  17. 3 minutes per person to scan ? What they factor in to that time ?

  18. Well I’m pretty sure tomorrow isn’t a sell out so that should ease the stress ……and there is no premier league stadium with over 40,000 that has four or five gates what madness is he talking. It’s more like 30-40 and very few people arrive more than 45 mins before a premiership game. What they do is allocate a gate on your ticket and that’s your gate no matter what ….therefore distributing the crowd evenly …..really it’s not rocket science

    • The USA match last like many others was a disaster to enter !! Children and women squashed by animals pushing through the crowd !! Same one entrance that is being proposed tomorrow

  19. this is so funny….there are four entrances if we exclude the training ground and yet we only using one ….just tell us u don’t have the money to staff the entrances and we will not say u are dumb

  20. Seriously, an event travel plan is a necessity for large events. There are people in this country (myself included) trained to develop travel plans for things like events. Oh jeez nah, cmon.

  21. 5 into 70,000 doesn’t equal 1 into 20,000. Just saying…

  22. I don’t agree with the one entrance for 20,000 people well be clearly stated he attended one with 5 being used for 70,000. How is his maths?

  23. 3 minutes for a person to be scanned? Righttttt….

  24. Will somebody tell Gary that walk through scanners pick up noise from coins, keys, belt buckles, etc. What’s he going to do then?