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30.03.2019 ・ Impulses

Study on “Personal Security in Professional Football/Soccer”

Key Insights Research conducted by Oliver Graf (SRH University Heidelberg, DFB, DFL)

Methodology and Objectives:

This study was based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) conducted at the University of Maryland, as well as extensive press and internet research. Initially, the study aimed to define ten relevant risk aspects and subsequently investigate their potential consequences and causes. To ground these findings and ensure evidence-based analysis, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with experts, including players, player agents, officials, and security officers from clubs and associations. The analysis was carried out using methods such as semantic network analysis to:

  • identify focal points and thematic clusters,
  • describe the specific security situation and
  • provide recommendations for an integrated sports security management system, using football as a case study.

Background and Context:

Similar to many public figures, professional football players face a common dilemma, balancing security and privacy with the interests of fans and the public’s fascination with them, often as endorsers or active social media users seeking the limelight. Information about the wealth of professional footballers is readily available in the media. Debates over the appropriateness or social utility of extravagant earnings by sports stars are frequent and are accompanied by high-profile public statements. Threats against players, as well as actions against officials, player agents, or coaches, are recurring issues.


Through FMEA-based analyses and empirical evidence from qualitative and quantitative surveys, the study highlights clear shortcomings. Overall, it is evident that security experts often assess aspects of sports security differently from other stakeholders. Stadium security, based on the “Ten-Point Plan for Increased Security in Football” by the DFB and DFL, is generally rated as “good.” In the realm of travel security (away games, tournaments), significant opportunities for improvement are recognized, with security officers perceiving a higher need for action than the actual beneficiaries. The most critical evaluations are received for perceived levels of security when it comes to the private lives of players and officials.

Approaches to Enhance Security Infrastructure in Professional Football/Soccer:

The foundations for personal security in professional football appear to have been largely implicit, unsystematic, and in the form of general guidelines until now. Personal security, however, should be regarded as a relevant and independent discipline within sports security and be established as such. Substantial value can be unlocked through recognized quality assurance instruments that are employed for process-oriented security management. The study presents recommendations for 24 systematic approaches or individual measures from both a strategic and tactical perspective.

Analysis | Conceptualization | Implementation

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Security guidance represents only a small, visible part of the facets and possibilities in personal protection. But even for the expert, it is not sufficient to know proven preventive and reactive measures.

From scientific risk analysis through conceptual development to successful implementation, strategic and operational consulting skills are also required.

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The demands and expectations for professional personal protection are constantly increasing. We have not only engaged with relevant developments and trends but have also implemented insights from a forward-looking and visionary perspective.

Our approach is based on the idea that genuine security enhancements only occur where scientific analysis, consulting expertise, and practical experiences from various security domains intersect.

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Andreas Schubert
Senior Consultant Protective Intelligence & Forensics
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Carsten Doukas
Director Executive Protection | Sports
Kilian Laimer
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Carsten Ibele
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