Why must we suffer? Warriors fans and security consultant discuss issues at Guatemala game

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There were barely 9,000 spectators in their seats for kick off last Friday, as the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team squared off against Guatemala in a vital Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier.

The Soca Warriors “12th man”—the fans—could not get in. By the restart, there were double the number of supporters, although roughly 2,000 ticketed fans simply gave up and went home.

Security consultant and former National Security Minister Gary Griffith—who was in charge of stadium operations for Trinidad and Tobago’s last home qualifier against St Vincent and the Grenadines—blamed the furore on an unnamed Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) official who supposedly overrode his instructions.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president and ex-SSFL president Ewing Davis does match commissioner duties during 2015/16 CNG National Super League Premiership Division action at the Matura Recreation Ground. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president and ex-SSFL president Ewing Davis does match commissioner duties during 2015/16 CNG National Super League Premiership Division action at the Matura Recreation Ground.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis is the football body representative with responsibility for match security.

“They foolishly decided to override what I directed and have the ticket scanning done at the main entrance point, which was absolutely ridiculous,” Griffith told Wired868, “as you cannot expect to scan 20,000 tickets by four persons at one point. I specifically stated that the scanning of tickets would take place at the 12 odd entrance gates to get into the Stadium, as per the Policy, and only scanning for persons would be done at the main entrances to get into the compound…

KFC Munch Pack

“Ten minutes into the  game, and with nearly 10,000 persons stranded outside, I made a judgement call and directed that the tickets should just be taken from each patron, and allow them entry and scan the ticket after.

“This system ensured that over 8,000 persons got into the Stadium in 30 minutes… Had I not done so, many would never have entered before the game ended.”

So what did Soca Warriors fans who attended the match think of the whole affair?

Wired868 asked Kirwin, Savitri, Brian and ‘Mango’ to share their experience with us.

Photo: Soca Warriors supporters trickle into the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain to see Trinidad and Tobago tackle Guatemala on 2 September 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Soca Warriors supporters trickle into the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain to see Trinidad and Tobago tackle Guatemala on 2 September 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Wired868: What was the experience like for Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup qualifier against Guatemala?

Kirwin: Sigh, unfortunately the experience was not a pleasant one again. Firstly, the traffic and parking situation was stressful. I chose to walk from the Fire Station on Wrightson Road to get to the venue quicker. To enter the stadium was even more tedious. I took it for granted that we truly learnt something after the St Vincent and the Grenadines game where [everything was] very good. Hence, I got into the line [for the Guatemala match] at about 6:30pm and was in my seat at 7:21 pm.

I took the entrance adjacent to the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field. The line there was about 40-50 feet long and about 10 people wide. Problem was there existed only two lanes to get your tickets scanned. Nonsense! To make matters worse, people kept skipping the line. There were some guys with florescent green jackets written ‘steward’ on it. They served little purpose as they just observed the line skipping taking place. No attempt was being made to keep some semblance of order there.

The stewards did not appear to be Trinis either. One even got into an argument with a patron.

I’ve attended other games, some with as much as 80,000 attendance and entrance to the stadium took no more than five minutes. The difference is the number of entry points… I don’t think it requires much thought into finding a solution for the problems we encountered. I must mention that there was a bottleneck to exit the stadium, which is another unnecessary security risk.

Photo: Soca Warriors supporters get ready to rumble before 2018 World Cup qualifying action against the United States. (Courtesy Allan Powder/Wired868)
Photo: Soca Warriors supporters get ready to rumble before 2018 World Cup qualifying action against the United States.
(Courtesy Allan Powder/Wired868)

Savitri: Every single time I attend a game at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, it’s been a nightmare. Friday was no worse than any other, except that they were scanning tickets at the gate instead of the turnstiles.


It took us about 30 minutes to get through the gates. The security and bag check personnel were situated too close to the scanners, so everyone with bags were crossing those coming in. There were two gates opened to the uncovered stand—both before and after the game. This was amazing, since the crowd leaving was more concentrated. We eventually found seats right over the tunnel. I thought, for security/safety reasons, they could’ve opened more exits to allow a faster flow out of the stadium.

By the way, I never left my seat once the match started. There were just three out of six toilets operational in one of the ladies’ sections.

Photo: A female Trinidad and Tobago fan (centre) phones it in during a lull in action at the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States on 17 November 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: A female Trinidad and Tobago fan (centre) phones it in during a lull in action at the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States on 17 November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Brian: Well I had issues with how it was organised.They said that the gates were opening from 4pm and that didn’t happen. I got through due to a partner working with [a company associated with the game] and they hadn’t even set up the ticket scanner yet!
I saw that a lot of people didn’t get a chance to see the entire first half due to the stupidity of the organisers and some even got soaked in the rain waiting to get in.

There should be more turnstiles available for easy access. And if they are saying that the games open at a particular time, well then they should be ready at the time given.

To be honest, it was a joke. They didn’t even check me as I walked in. I could have had a gun in my pocket.

And guess who was sitting in front of me? [National Security Minister Edmund] Dillon!

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)

Mango: Well back in the days it was really easier to get into the stadium to see the games. Most of the ticket entrances used to be open compared to now. I was really happy that I didn’t attend the game against, I think it was either St Vincent or the USA, because I heard getting into the stadium was horrible.

But this time I decided to go because I was told that it would be much better. When we got there around 5.30pm, it wasn’t too bad and I think that it took us about 30 minutes to enter the stadium. And while I was taking pictures of the crowd [from my seat], I realised that a lot of the stadium was still empty including the covered stands and, about 33 minutes into the game, the empty seats began to be filled. So I guess the reason for this was that the entrance to come in was really backed up and this is also because of the searching of [patrons] at the gate.

The other thing I noticed as a security expert is that the screeners were beeping when individuals went through them but no one was checked to see what items they had on their person. So I don’t know how they determined if folks had weapons on them.

And of course on exiting after the game, we went through the same entrance that we came in, instead of some other gates being opened. I guess they don’t get a lot of volunteers like back in the days or they are just about cutting cost and don’t really care about the patrons anymore. They know that our people will always complain and rant about things and, when another event or game is coming around again, it is right back to go through the same madness. Them really good yes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) gestures to fans after Joevin Jones' second goal against Guatemala during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. Both teams played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) gestures to fans after Joevin Jones’ second goal against Guatemala during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868

Wired868: What will be going through your mind when the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) advertises its next home game?

Kirwin: To be honest, I would be attending no matter the situation. But it’s somewhat of a mental toll knowing there’s a possibility you have to endure the same drama again. It sucks a bit of the anticipation and energy from supporters because the focus drifts from football and the players and the support you’ll give, to how horrible the management is to enter the stadium and about trying to recover from that turmoil.

It makes you question your worth as a fan, because your getting into the stadium is not prioritised.

Savitri: I promise not to go to any match again. The worry of my car being towed was too much and instead of ticket scalpers it was TT$50 to park in a soggy, grassy spot. The Hasely Crawford Stadium has outgrown it’s usefulness.

Brian: I would definitely be thinking about their lack or organisation skills for our next home game because it was piss poor. But to be honest, I’m enjoying what [Soca Warriors coach Stephen] Hart has done so far. So I would go [to the game] no matter what.

Mango: That was my last game going to the Stadium unless they make it much easier to enter and exit when the game has concluded. Them really good yes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans react to action during their team's goalless draw with the United States yesterday in 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans react to action during their team’s goalless draw with the United States yesterday in 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

For whatever it is worth, Griffith promised a better experience for fans at the next football event.

“Yet again there are over 8,000 persons very upset and rightfully so,” said Griffith, “and simply because some decided to do their own thing, override what I had drafted, and cause havoc.

“I can promise you that this would not take place again, and all relevant personnel would adhere to what is drafted in the Operational Policy, and not try to ‘do their own thing’.”

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)

Editor’s Note: The TTFA’s security consultant, Gary Griffith, responds to Mango’s concern about the body scanners:

“The scanners are designed to trigger from the smallest object to a heavy massive metal object, with five colour coded signals above the scanner. It makes no sense to stop and then search every person anytime the scanner triggers off, as almost every person has  car keys, a cell phone, etc. So those were the individuals that would be allowed to enter.

“It is only when it triggers above three lights, that the persons are then stopped, as it is a metal object above car key/ cell phones, so this is the  alert to then search those persons.

“If we were to search everyone at every signal of the scanner, then each person would be searched and they would then probably have entered an hour or two after the game.”

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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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127 comments


  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    Lasana you can’t compare cricket with football. A man hit a four and is noise. A man out is noise. Long time when a man get a beat on the football field is noise. That hardly happens now

  2. The fact that GG have the wuk you know this will not end well. Everytime I see him at the HCS I does get upset. Strutting like a peacok while chaos reigns.

  3. The guy asked for your keys and cellphone…which he held and gave back to you once you went through the scanner. ..which was beeping off the charts..but with everyone in the line cussing. .they were just letting you through

  4. Lasana Liburd… dem men on follies. .it had ONE ..I repeat ONE scanner at the entrance I entered and I believe there were TWO..I repeat TWO entrances… for what 18000 people?…dem on follies

  5. Besides the horror show of the entrance and exit…the stadium staff were fully aware of the state of the field. Rain also fell heavily that day. So it was fair that they chose to not allow the teams use of the field before kickoff. Why did someone not have the foresight to rent at least 4 light towers so the teams can have a proper warm-up. International teams warming up in near darkness….that looked horrible. Then you get into the stadium…the field events cage is still up,obscuring the view from some seats. Simple things like these we cannot even get right.

  6. Editor’s Note: The TTFA’s security consultant, Gary Griffith, responds to Mango’s concern about the body scanners:
    “The scanners are designed to trigger from the smallest object to a heavy massive metal object, with five colour coded signals above the scanner. It makes no sense to stop and then search every person anytime the scanner triggers off, as almost every person has car keys, a cell phone, etc. So those were the individuals that would be allowed to enter.
    “It is only when it triggers above three lights, that the persons are then stopped, as it is a metal object above car key/ cell phones, so this is the alert to then search those persons.
    “If we were to search everyone at every signal of the scanner, then each person would be searched and they would then probably have entered an hour or two after the game.”

  7. Yes, but even when that is?was not a problem we are too reserved, a few drums etc. We are hardly a 12th man in the best of circumstances. Teams don’t feel intimidated when playing in Trinidad. That has to change.

  8. Chandani Boodoo you made a post about us being a 12th man. But this is the problem with that right here.

  9. “We like so” in my best Sparrow voice

  10. I eh boycotting….I just watching on tv

  11. I am not condoning the nonsense that took place but once this country is playing I will try my best to be present. I can’t boycott any game involving my country

  12. Last game there was a little boy with his mom and I actually took him and put him on my shoulders as I was afraid for him …. we just not learning …I not beating up…I home….with meh squad. ..beers and alcohol ….snacks and replays

  13. Simpke really….I eh going again. …simple. .. I went through the nonesense for the US game and after reading a release from the TTFA that same would not happen I ventured to the Guatemalan game. To make things worse I felt like I was in Saudi as I couldn’t even buy a beer…I’m home from now on…can’t continue to support nonesense

  14. This is why I stay home and watch on tv

  15. …..and the ppl who are awarded the contract for games at the stadium are not being pulled up enough.
    It has happened for 3 games in a row!

  16. Hear nah…..Trinis d GREATEST inno….is how many matches now they doing this one entry rubbish with a crush of people waiting hours to get inside? And every time for the usual 9 days people rant and rave on FB and calling in on radio…TTFA make some jokey statement…..next game same thing….guess what Trinis do?! Allyuh LOVE it so oui……

    • Wouldnt say love it so…I would say that some like me love our country and love to support our sporting teams. Its not the players fault that the sporting administration is poor. So what you saying, I shouldn’t have gone to see a legend like Lara because the WICB incompetent?

    • Some people harden inno and only learn by the bug stick method. Bet if people boycott 1 game because of that rubbish and they make $0.00 they stop that rubbish….but we know the trini way…..useless whiny complaining that solves nothing….then proceed to patronize again….rinse and repeat….

  17. Over and over this happens and it will happen for the next game as well because no one is accountable! No one gets fired yet we foolishly believe that things will miraculously get better in Trinidad.

  18. Lasana breds….some people really good yes….Gary is as real with security as it gets….

  19. That’s why I stopped going altogether….

  20. I like the availability about the change in ticketing. Not the actual ticket itself.

  21. I’m not too sure I wanna chance his change in policy nah. If I do, I’m not paying for a ticket, for sure. The TTFA have to give me a free ticket to go to any match

  22. If this continues I’ll have to view my matches live on the Flowsport channel.

  23. You either have to take time off work and subject yourself to blazing sun, intermittent pelting rain, or annoying consistent drizzle for three odd hours or you could reach after 5pm and take jamming.
    Those are the options in 2016.
    ???
    And after all that yuh can’t even get a flipping beer when yuh reach inside.

  24. I came from the East. I left late but never experienced so much traffic and it started just before the beginning of the Beetham and not a police in sight. I think the tickets from the Lotto outlets is a good idea .

  25. The last game was way more organized where entry into the stadium was concerned. Everyone entered by Lions using about four or five lanes, females separate from males. Complimentary and covered stand holders walked around and uncovered stayed right there, no big stress. This foolishness this time where only covered stand persons by the outside field was a mess, rain was falling and it had one little tent . Everybody trying to fit under it so nobody moving, even the Guatemala fans had to suffer there too. Sadly, there were persons there who did not realize it was only for covered stand only so they had to run out in the rain to get to the other side. This is at 5.30 pm. Then when the machine start going off they asking persons to empty they pockets ….all this is while standing in the rain….yes, in the rain, to remove CHEWING GUM…yes…GUM as that was not allowed in the stadium. They were searching bags for that.. not GUNS.

  26. One positive to take away from this… the availability of tickets from lotto outlets…

    Fin

  27. This is not new Lasana Liburd for the USA game I was crushed trying to get in… nothing has changed from then to now… kick off is 7 pm I get off work 530pm leave my office in central get stuck in traffic on wrightson road reach the stadium 645 and missed nearly the entire 1st half… shame from USA game to now nothing has changed..

  28. So who was the idiot that did his own thing and failed miserably?? Ewing Davis?? Gary accustomed to naming names..but like he is afraid to lose out on the next game so he is being uncharacteristically quiet…Name names na Gary!! Ewing if it was you, apologize to the fans na..why is it so hard to just own up to stuff boy?? Steuuuups!!

  29. As much as I wanted to support my team,I suspected that getting to and from the stadium would be a bit much for me on Friday night.It’s just as well because I would have been caught in this nightmare created by some jackass.

  30. Is Like clockwork, we can always count on the TTFA to frustrate fans… This is the very reason why for every game, I get to M. Towne around 4pm, take a lil sip by Ruby Tuesday and walk across to Stadium 5pm. Then buy a lil nuts from “Alyuh buy nuts from meh nah” drink a beverage and sit and wait till game time… My wife always watch me like I’m crazy when I tell her game is 7pm, and I’m going to Stadium 3-4 hours prior..

    • Lasana Liburd

      Lol. I hear you Adam. I usually aim for two hours before myself, although I ended up running a little late on Friday and got there around 6pm instead. It’s rough man. People have to think twice about taking their children, for instance, and that’s a real shame.

  31. And what is with this whole one entry point business? It just seems like a lazy solution and ends up being a security risk to patrons. It does make yuh feel like cattle being led to de slaughter. Then yuh have to be careful yuh doh bounce yuh foot against de metal barriers dat appear out of nowhere when yuh get close to de ticket scanning area. Another thing are those narrow, narrow turnstiles. The stadium definitely needs an upgrade. It’s almost 35 years old now.

    • If they want to continue this one gate nonsense, they have to put down those metal police barriers from the bottom of the street leading all the way up to the turnstiles.

      So you get in a line from that point. At the bottom of the street. Then there wouldn’t be a mass of bodies trying to fit into these narrow turnstiles at the entrance at the top of the street……steups!!!

  32. Is Like clockwork, we can always count on the TTFA to frustrate fans… This is the very reason why for every game, I get to M. Towne around 4pm, take a lil sip by Ruby Tuesday and walk across to Stadium 5pm. Then buy a lil nuts from “Alyuh buy nuts from meh nah” drink a beverage and sit and wait till game time… My wife always watch me like I’m crazy when I tell her game is 7pm, and I’m going to Stadium 3-4 hours prior..

  33. I heard that 45min before kick off it was a breeze to get in

  34. We will forever be 3rd world with these clowns in charge

  35. Leaving the stadium after the game was another piece of stress also. Traffic backed up in the worst way.

  36. Btw I still have my “ticket” as a souvenir as I simply managed to walk past the police and scanning personnel with no questions asked. Reached in with 40 mins gone.

  37. Plan on reading this later but just wanted to say that I can’t express how livid I was to go through that bullshit AGAIN. It’s as if they really don’t want the support. It’s absolutely insulting to the fans and I can only imagine that it will get worse for the hex. Jesus Christ.

  38. It’s distressing to see parents struggling with their children in such an environment. Dey does end up becoming irritable and sweating like dogs. Older folks does be under pressure. Doh talk for those with physical disabilities. A couple of de “security” organizers should subject themselves to entering the stadium with the rest of patrons, so they can truly see and feel how their masterful arrangements works. It’s almost as if they are asking for a disaster to happen first before anything meaningful is done to alleviate the nonsense.

  39. Reservation system . Seat numbers , sections and rows. We’ve decided that’s rocket science .

  40. Over and over the same nonsense and you want a different result. Who hires these people? different government different people hired, yet its the same outcome. Must be the institutions where the blind is leading the blind. Regardless of everything the security firm got paid. People question why Trinidadians don’t attend and support the boys, is this repeated incompetence and frustration that fans have to undergo

  41. Recently went to the Maracana for the Semi Final match between Brazil and Honduras in the Olympics. I was in my seat with little hassle. A stadium that holds close to 80,00 people….here in T&T that cyar happen cuz we special…..steups!!

    And one more thing. It took me 1 hour to get from the Stadium to where I was staying……..I credit mass transit for that one…..

    Steups again!!

  42. What was (if anything) learnt post 1989??

  43. Why you keep quoting the man Lasana Liburd steups

  44. Maybe if you allow parking in the Savannah and parkcade with shuttles it would be easier. Uptown person park at the Savannah and those downtown and coming into town via the beetham at the parkcade. Further to that they can ask the Anglican Church to use their carpark. So when you buy your ticket you get your shuttle pass and parking pass. That way your car safe and you are driven to the stadium and back to your car. That way you easy the traffic around the stadium. That’s my two cents

  45. Last year i went Washington to see Chelsea play Barca. 90000 persons with easy access to get in and the stadium empty in 10 minutes. TTFA have to stop hiring their incompetent friends and families. Game after game we cant get this right…waste of time

  46. Just when I thinking about flying in for a game in the Hex…. why are things always so difficult and backward….

  47. This is when incompetent people are put in charge of sport…when will we learn eh Kern George? Just today we talking about this smh

  48. TTFA spokesman told Andre Baptiste live on his program the night before that they had only sold 8,000 tickets. I think there is a disconnect between how information was communicated between VIA and the TTFA because it leads one to think that over 10,000 tickets were sold on the Friday

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