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Published: Friday December 20, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 19, 2013 MYT 4:16:42 PM

Security at SEA Games must be improved on

A football fan throws a stone at the policemen during a clash after Myanmar lost to Indonesia and was knocked out of the football competition at the SEA Games. – EPA Photo

A football fan throws a stone at the policemen during a clash after Myanmar lost to Indonesia and was knocked out of the football competition at the SEA Games. – EPA Photo

WHEN Myanmar was announced as the host of SEA Games after a 44-year lapse, doubts were raised whether they would be able to handle the biennial competition.

However, the country has proven the naysayers wrong by organising well-run Games, with the least organisational issues to date.

Despite several minor hiccups like poor transportation, language barriers and haywire results, the Games have been quite manageable from a journalist’s perspective.

There have been the usual complaints on biased judging, but that’s what you get with subjective sports that rely on the points system for scores, such as wushu, pencak silat and bodybuilding.

The complaints often come from countries when they don’t do so well and yet we hear of the fairness of judges when a country gets a gold.

In such cases it is hard to say if there really was biased judging or if it is just a case of sour grapes.

However, the black spot of the Games came after the Myanmar football team suffered a 1-0 loss to Indonesia and were knocked out of the competition.

Local media reported that trouble flared inside the Youth Training Centre (YTC) Stadium in Yangon before full-time and then carried on after the game with furious fans setting alight police posts and billboards.

Police had to use water cannons to disperse rioting Myanmar football fans who tore up seats, burned shirts and hurled stones at cops after the defeat.

Eight football fans, including two who invaded the pitch in the second-half, were detained by the police for causing trouble.

Millions had been spent on the team to land them the mother of all gold medals at the Games and the failure to even make the semi-finals resulted in the swift sacking of Myanmar’s South Korean coach Park Sung-hwa.

Poor crowd control is a norm at almost all the venues and it seems the security on that day just could not control the 50,000 disgruntled capacity crowd at the YTC stadium and this led to the riot.

Football aside, the local fans also turned out to be an obnoxious group during the snooker competition where they cheered as loudly as they could for their athlete.

Snooker is one sport that is normally played under extremely quiet conditions at competitions.

While it is understandable for fans to get carried away during sporting events, the onus is on the organiser to keep the situation under control.

In this case, the organiser did not bother to remind the supporters to tone down, drawing dissatisfaction and discomfort among the cueists.

While Myanmar deserves full marks for the organisation of the Games in general and its friendly people, security and fan/crowd control is one area that can really be improved on. And this is something that future SEA Games hosts should be mindful of.

There’s nothing wrong with cheering for your country or team but when it affects the other teams’ or athletes’ performance, it should be curbed.

A sense of fairplay should be imbued in fans. After all, it is the SEA Games and it’s held to bring together the region and celebrate sports.

Tags / Keywords: SEA Games, Myanmar, Naypyitaw, Nyapidaw, organisation, security, fans, football, riot

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