Pitch invasions during sporting events have seen a concerning rise in New Zealand. With the advent of social media, these incidents have become a trend, fuelled by the desire for notoriety and online fame. However, the safety of players, security staff, and the integrity of the game are at stake.

As New Zealand’s leading event security guarding company, we recognise the urgent need for action to address this issue. In this article, we will delve into the severity of pitch invasions, the safety concerns they pose, current security measures, the role of legislative change, and collaborative efforts to combat this problem. Together, we can create a safer environment for everyone involved in sports.

The Rise of Pitch Invaders in New Zealand

Social media has played a significant role in the rise of pitch invaders, turning their actions into viral trends. The pursuit of notoriety has become easily attainable, as these incidents can be shared worldwide within seconds. Despite social media platforms removing explicit content, pitch invaders still seek online popularity, leading to their actions being recorded and shared. This trend undermines the integrity of sports events and necessitates urgent action.

Safety Concerns for Staff and Players

Pitch invasions create safety concerns for security staff, players, but also the invaders themselves. When an individual breaches the barriers, they are trespassing and must be physically restrained, putting everyone involved at risk. It also means disruption to the event is inevitable, impacting key moments of the game. Furthermore, direct contact between players and invaders poses a significant safety risk, and the absence of legal consequences for such actions is concerning.

To prevent pitch invasions, current security measures focus on strong deterrence and visible staff strategically positioned to convey a message of limited opportunity for intruders. Collaboration with the police also ensures swift custody of trespassers although our Court system in NZ appear to have a low appetite for prosecution in this area, and no consequence for youth is causing this problem to increase, along with security costs and increased controls around events.

Raising Awareness and Educating the Public

It is crucial to raise public awareness about the consequences of pitch invasions and educate fans about the impact of their actions on themselves, security staff, and player safety and the overall sporting experience. Pitch invasions not only increase risks for players but also hinder smaller regions from attracting major events due to increased security costs. The collective effort to combat this issue aims to preserve the enjoyable experience of all attendees while emphasising the safety concerns for players, staff, and the public.

The Role of Legislative Change

Advocating for legislative change is essential to support a safe environment for our workforce to enforce stricter penalties for pitch invaders. These changes should include increased fines, bans across multiple venues, and the implementation of instant fines similar to parking violations. Tougher penalties act as deterrents, discouraging potential offenders and preserving the integrity of sporting events. A simple reinterpretation of the Trespass Act could introduce penalties as could a broader application of the Major Events Act. Industry stakeholders, including stadium managers, the police, and major event organisations, recognise the need for greater consequences and have engaged in dialogue with one another and to the government to address this issue effectively.

Working Together to Tackle Change

The rise of pitch invaders during New Zealand sporting events necessitates immediate action. By acknowledging the severity of this issue and implementing stricter penalties, we can deter potential offenders and preserve the safety and integrity of our sporting culture. The government needs to act, before costs and additional controls impact events in NZ, or someone gets really hurt. Collaboration among security companies, sporting bodies, and relevant authorities is also paramount in effectively addressing pitch invasions.

By pooling resources and expertise, we can develop comprehensive strategies to mitigate the risks associated with pitch invasions, and demand legislative change. Together, we can tackle pitch invasions and safeguard the future of sports in New Zealand.