Painstaking Inspection of Stadiums


The real kings of the UEFA Euro 2016 in France are the ten stadiums, nine of which are brand new or totally renovated. Their safety and reliability were scrutinized from every angle, including by Bureau Veritas, to make sure the competition goes off without a hitch. The 10 key points are listed below.


All building projects require an independent testing, inspection and certification organization to verify the design, construction practices and safety, as well as regulatory compliance at time of delivery. Bureau Veritas audited the construction of four of the ten 2016 UEFA European Championship stadiums: Stade de France in Paris, Allianz Riviera in Nice, Matmut Atlantique in Bordeaux and Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon. First, in our construction supervision role we performed checks to detect any technical risks that might impact the safety or soundness of the stadiums and verified the various construction phases. Next we acted as health and safety coordinator, ensuring everyone’s safety during work performed by various contractors at the site. We also supervised compliance with French Environmental Code regulations. Lastly, and more importantly, we provided technical assistance for the approval of spaces hosting sporting events.


Bureau Veritas inspected the structural steel at several UEFA Euro 2016 stadiums, including those in Nice, Lyon, and Bordeaux, to make sure they could withstand fire for at least 90 minutes without buckling, leaving time to evacuate the public. After running computer simulations, we conducted actual drills, igniting devices similar to open fires in underground structures to simulate a vehicle on fire.


With so many people crowded together in one place, even the slightest health risk must be avoided. For the Bordeaux stadium, Bureau Veritas provided significant technical assistance on health issues, for example making sure the water supply was sufficient. It certainly is: 400 toilets can be flushed at the same time! For the Lyon, Nice and Bordeaux stadiums, Bureau Veritas was hired to manage the risk of Legionella infection in the water supply systems to protect fans in restrooms and players in locker rooms.


Crowd control safety measures to control crowd movement have been stepped up since the Hillsborough and Furiani disasters, which claimed the lives of dozens of people and injured hundreds. It all starts with stadium design. Engineers, assisted by Bureau Veritas teams for the Lyon, Nice and Bordeaux stadiums, calculated the gate and concourse width necessary for people to evacuate smoothly in case of fire or accident. This was subsequently verified by measurements and simulations. The Stade de France, which has 18 concourses that widen as they get closer to the exit, can evacuate 100 people a second and all 80,000 fans in 13 minutes.


For both convenience and safety reasons, UEFA and FFF (“Ligue 1”) require six meters of food service counters per 1,000 fans, so everyone can order food during the 15-minute half-time. Bureau Veritas ensures France’s top soccer league complies with this requirement.


The maximum height of grass on the field, mandated by UEFA, is 30 millimeters and no more. It can be cut to as short as 23 millimeters (the shorter it is, the less tired players get). Bureau Veritas is responsible for ensuring that the heating cables under the grass in Bordeaux, for example, work properly.


The size of goals (7.32 meters by 2.44 meters) is not the only requirement specified. Regulations also require them to be stable. Movable (and freestanding) training goals, now permitted in France again, must be self-weighted to prevent tipover and must undergo service testing, which Bureau Veritas performs. Match goals must be robust in place: Bureau Veritas was tasked with vertically loading the crossbars with 180 kilograms for one minute. That’s twice the weight of a goalie doing a few pull-ups.


Game and especially TV broadcast quality require being able to see the field as if it were broad daylight, even at night, without any shadows on the grass. In technical terms, lighting must be at least 1,400 lux field-wide, preferably 2,300 lux, which Bureau Veritas rigorously verifies. Separate backup power must be able to supply at least two-thirds of that light intensity in the event of an outage.


Stadium acoustics are key to a quality experience: fans must be able to hear the referee’s whistle, yet the roar of the crowd must not disturb the venue’s city neighbors. Noise levels were studied beforehand, during the design phase, and checked afterward by Bureau Veritas at the Stade de France and at Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium.


Can our stadiums withstand extreme conditions or severe earthquakes and keep the public safe, as required by seismic and vibration serviceability standards (specifically, Eurocode 8 and ISO 10137)? Assigned to verify this requirement, Bureau Veritas used powerful software to model the stadiums and virtually test their structures. We then compared this data to field tests, installing seismic sensors during Ligue 1 matches, when the stadiums were packed with crowds of fans jumping up and down. In other stadiums, Bureau Veritas employed harmonic vibration test equipment — enormous machines with hydraulic jacks that can generate vibrations in structures to study their reaction.


To keep fans safe and prevent fraud, Bureau Veritas teams were asked to verify that entrances had adequate physical checkpoints (gates and turnstiles) and, at the Stade de France, that ticket bar codes could only be scanned once.

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