The International Centre for Sport Security: one non-profit organisation’s aim to secure sport

by Ahmed Alosaymi[1]


Sport is crucial to people and society. Its values, its life-lessons, must be preserved, as should security, safety and integrity. These three fundamental and complicated sport practices are issues at the heart of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).

As countries continue to persevere to host major international sporting events, the need has grown for knowledge, best practice in the field, and experience. This is especially true as sport faces a changing economic, social and media world.

The ICSS was established just three years ago, a neutral and independent, international organisation based in Qatar with all profit re-invested into its core activities. Nevertheless, the ICSS is fast becoming a global hub of expertise in the arena of security, safety and integrity working with clients and partners including event organisers, governments and bidding nations, infrastructure owners, sport associations, leagues and clubs.

It seeks to fill the gaps in sport security, safety and integrity under the direction of its founder and President, Mohammed Hanzab, who recognised the gap for a global organisation with this kind of focus:

From corruption to key safety and security risks, there are significant existing and emerging threats to sport that, if left unchecked, could cause significant damage to its very fabric. The ICSS goal is to be a global hub of security, safety and integrity expertise, with the sole purpose of ensuring sport is equipped to overcome these challenges.

The ICSS exists to protect all sports – the sanctity, the values and the human and social aspects of sport. Its mission is to address real issues and provide first-rate services, skills, networks and knowledge to improve security, safety and integrity across all sports. Its vision is clear: secure, safe and clean sport.

What is also clear are the growing challenges in these fields; attempting to tackle these challenges is an ICSS team of some of the world’s leading experts and their global network of subject matter experts.

Heading these high-level experts is German-born Executive Director, Helmut Spahn. Spahn is a highly respected expert in security, safety, and crowd management with extensive major international sporting events’ experience.

The ICSS focus is on four specific areas:

–    security and risk advisory;

–    training;

–    research and knowledge gathering; and

–    sport integrity.

In order to fulfil the goals of its vision, the organisation has launched a number of initiatives with governments, sports bodies, and national and international organisations; all those responsible for sport security, safety and integrity; and is committed to supporting them in their execution of what should be a universal responsibility: safeguarding sport.


Security and risk advisory

As increasingly nations endeavor to host the world’s greatest sporting events, delivering safe and secure events becomes even more important. The formula for a successful event includes early planning and preparation. The ICSS is able to work with organisers of these events, sports organisations, as well as sport facility managers, providing them with expert security and risk advisory services at every event and project phase, including strategic planning, bidding and legacy.


Safety, Security and Integrity (SSI) ModelTM

In the past century, there have been more than 135 major sporting events with no standard security model to assess security plans against, a guideline has never existed… until now. The ICSS has devised a master guide known as the (SSI) ModelTM. This will aid in the master planning of all major sporting events. The framework consists of eight dimensions of an event life cycle and addresses all security functions to be managed at the preparation and operations phases. This is the ideal guide for those involved in planning major international events.


Advising sport

–    The ICSS and the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) have a continuing agreement to advance knowledge, share best practices, optimise security and integrity planning and work together to ensure safer sporting events in the future. The ICSS will provide continuous advisory services to the EPFL regarding security and integrity infrastructure, planning and design and will also offer its capability to conduct research projects and access to its wide network of experts.

–    In 2012, the ICSS and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced that they would work together in the run-up to that year’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Finland and Sweden. The IIHF and ICSS joined forces on risk management and crisis communication for the tournament. Central to the project was a joint evaluation of previous IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and ice hockey events and the development of decision-making processes and communication guidelines for the IHHF.

–    The ICSS together with the World Health Organization (WHO) held a workshop on risk communication during mass gatherings with the aim of sharing experiences in risk communication and to advance various information sharing methods and platforms to help manage global public health risks.

–    Together with the Organization of American States (OAS), the ICSS will cooperate on sport security and socio-economic development. The ICSS and Secretariat of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security (SMS) of the Organization of American States will collaborate to aid the development of national crime prevention and security strategies to protect sport, while at the same time further socio-economic development. The agreement applies to the security of major sporting events and protecting sport throughout the Americas when it comes to safety, security and integrity.



The organisation is aware that, in order to successfully ensure the security and safety of event attendees, organisations need vigorous training programmes. The ICSS offers tailor-made training programmes to all those involved in every stage of major sporting events.

Most recently, the ICSS ran “Stadium Safety & Security Management”, a course that saw top sporting organisations receive a unique opportunity to be exposed to event safety and security at an international level. The course included insight into an actual match-day and behind the scenes exposure. Course participants hailed from top sporting organisations and had a unique opportunity to experience first-hand, what goes into successful safety and security aspects of huge stadiums like the 50,000-seater, Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, a 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ stadium.

Another training endeavour saw ICSS subject matter experts giving Brazilian professionals in-depth sessions on security and safety management at Austria’s IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. The four-week diploma course is part of a Brazilian government-sponsored training programme focussing on managing major events, including developing security plans and tourism packages, as well as marketing major events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Summer Games. The course includes a visit to the Ernst-Happel-Stadium, giving the Brazilian managers an inside look at best practice at work.


Research and knowledge gathering

Ongoing research and knowledge gathering is essential for an in-depth understanding of issues and trends that mold strategic planning and action. The ICSS conducts, commissions and publishes comprehensive research on important trends and topics in sport security, safety and integrity, as well as the various implications of public and private sector investment in sport security. The organisation does this through knowledge sharing via the ICSS Knowledge Portal, research projects, scenario planning exercises, articles and, most especially, in the form of the ICSS Journal.

–    The Knowledge portal is a groundbreaking new research database for the security sector, designed to become the first point of reference for major event organisers and sport security practitioners around the world, bringing together research and articles from leading public, private and academic sources and identifying crucial gaps in knowledge.

–    Research projects include an agreement with The Institute for Fan Culture (IfF) in Germany and will actively involve fans from a variety of social groups, as well as leading sporting organisation’s and security experts, to determine why fans exhibit extreme behaviour within a sporting environment.

–    An annual sport security industry analysis provides a greater understanding of evolving industry dynamics.


The ICSS Journal

As part of the ICSS’s commitment to share knowledge and help governments and international federations deliver safe and secure major sport events, the ICSS journal examines emerging themes in sport, security, economics and integrity. The ICSS Journal is released on a quarterly basis, providing essential insight from experts in the field and exploring emerging issues and challenges impacting all major international sporting events. The publication includes articles from a range of experts currently operating in the world of sport, safety, security and integrity and is distributed around the world to leading organisations, international federations, governments and corporations, all involved in the delivery of major international sporting events and integrity-related projects.


Sport integrity

Integrity is fundamental to the very essence of sport but it is easily eroded by corruption. What is competition if there is no integrity? Breaches in integrity damage sport’s values, shape its popularity and ultimately its longevity.

Proactive protection of sport is now especially necessary in response to the new and escalating fight against the infiltration of international organised crime into sport, and the impact of fraud in the global sport betting market.

The ICSS, taking these challenges into consideration, established a Sport Integrity Directorate headed by Chris Eaton and staffed by industry leading experts providing integrity support for all sports. Eaton, with over forty years in the field of international law enforcement, security and integrity and previous roles as Head of Security for FIFA and Head of Operations at INTERPOL, says:

With an ever-increased number of criminal organisations turning their gaze towards sports, it is now critical that we start doing more to protect sport and the positive values that it aims to instill in young people around the world.


Fighting match-fixing

The ICSS recognises the fight against match-fixing needs to be solved on a global level and exists across all sports. The ICSS was most recently appointed by the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (LFP) of Spain; Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico (Lega Pro); the European Lotteries; and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), to advise on issues around match-fixing and corruption in sport. The ICSS will advise these organisations on how to strengthen their sport integrity resources and capabilities and allow them to draw from ICSS expertise in international integrity and investigations. It will also include specific areas of activity and collaboration, including integrity training and education, monitoring of international betting where applicable, investigation advice and support, and intelligence gathering. The ICSS has also been accepted as a member of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) Consultative Committee that includes 25 sports organisations, including the IOC and UEFA. The ICSS is already an official partner of the Council of Europe as it works towards a draft international convention to overcome the manipulation of sports results.

Save the Dream

Sports results manipulation does not merely affect sport at a business and integrity level but also the core values of sport for future generations. Young people losing faith in sport could result in dire consequences; this is why the ICSS has created Save the Dream, an initiative that aims to protect the belief in sport’s values and promote integrity and ethics to young people. Save the Dream (with its first international office in Turin, Italy) will do this assisted by a range of sporting champions to help reach the youth. This panel includes football legend, Alessandro del Piero, and World swimming champion, Penny Heyns. Alongside this “Elite Integrity Group”, Save the Dream also has the support of a high-level panel of internationally recognised decision-makers from various sectors of the world of sport and civil society, including the United Nations.The very first Save the Dream Award was given to Iván Fernández Anaya for honesty and good sportsmanship. The Spanish athlete received the award after running a cross-country race in December of 2012. Anaya assisted a leading runner who stopped short of the finish line, letting him win the race.


Most recently, the ICSS has also signed a partnership with Foot Solidaire to protect children and young people from the current and rising threat of trafficking in football. Foot Solidaire assists victims of trafficking and exploitation, specifically in Africa where they work with young footballers. The ICSS will help Foot Solidaire to understand the criminal motive to exploit those most vulnerable. The duo will also devise a number of educational and capacity building programmes and identify similar organisations to help combat child trafficking in football. The ICSS will share knowledge and provide expertise to fortify, endorse and advance best practice in the prevention of child trafficking.

The ICSS is also an official member of the United Nations Global Compact which means it can access key knowledge and expertise across a range of important stakeholders from this largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world. The membership also allows the ICSS access to a wide spectrum of management tools and resources to provide a practical framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices.


Ethics and sport integrity

Early last year, the ICSS and University Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne launched the applied research programme “Ethics and Sport Integrity” with an emphasis on the correlation between international gambling and sports results’ manipulation for the purposes of betting fraud. The initiative is associated to the Master in Law “Sports Law” of the Sorbonne. The main aim of the programme is to add to the efforts of the international community in the development of an international legal framework to regulate gambling and curtail sports results’ manipulation, starting from an analysis of existing instruments at the international, regional and national levels. Outcomes of the research are expected to be presented to international and national policy makers at the ICSS annual conference, Securing Sport in 2014.

The very first recipient of the ICSS-Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne University Trophy for “outstanding achievement in promoting sport integrity” went to the Badminton World Federation for their swift and resolute action in banning four badminton doubles teams from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for match-fixing.

Two other sport integrity initiatives emerged from the 2012 Sorbonne-ICSS Sport Integrity Symposium.

–    The first National Sport Integrity Index (NSII), a scientific effort by academics, sport experts and international agencies which will lead to an assessment of the sport security environment and sport security assets of countries aiming to host major sports events. The sport integrity index will become an imperative international tool in the fight against corruption in sport and will highlight certain areas where national and international stakeholders can provide further support to existing integrity practices.

–    The findings from the 2012 Sorbonne-ICSS Sport Integrity Symposium will form the first Sorbonne-ICSS Handbook for Sport Integrity – a structured guide that will provide stakeholders, federations and sports bodies with direct support and advice on comprehending and dealing with the complex nature of international sports-related integrity issues


Conferences, symposiums, summits

Every year, the ICSS organises the international conference “Securing Sport: for a changing world” that aims to drive new thinking in the fields of sport security, safety and integrity. Hundreds of the most influential sporting decision-makers, experts and practitioners converge to enhance the future of sport security, safety and integrity.

The ICSS also recognised the need for a closed-door forum due to the sensitive nature of many security and integrity issues. Its expert summits and integrity symposia address this need allowing industry knowledge to be exchanged in a confidential environment under the Chatham House Rule.



Committed to whatever it can do to ensure that sport is clean and fair, the ICSS truly wants to deliver a service to the world as Mohammed Hanzab reiterates:

The essence of sport – integrity of competition and a safe, secure environment in which to watch and play – is precious. We believe that we have a responsibility to protect sport, the ICSS is not proposing in any way to control but to assist and advise and inspire present and future generations and restore their faith in sport.

The ICSS is dedicated to working to complement and help the global and unified approach on the most burning issues in sport today.


[1] Ahmed Alosaymi is ICSS Manager Sport Integrity and may be contacted by e-mail at

This entry was posted on 24 Dec 2013 10:40, in Uncategorized and tagged .