Friday, July 13, 2012

Olympic football: Faster, higher, stricter

It's not often this blog quotes Friends, that one time global sitcom phenomenon.

But it was the great sports philosopher Monica Geller who once said "rules help control fun."

An everyday tale of spectacularly camera friendly folk with nothing much to say seems fitting for the soulless, uniform customer experience that modern sport seems determined to become.

For the old fashioned among us that's another blow against spontaneity, a step along the road to sport as uniform customer experience rather than something more raw.

It was with increasing unease that I read the lengthy instructions issued ahead of the Olympic football at Hampden.

Certainly turning the Hampden entrances into the equivalent of an airport customs check seems a novel way of attempting to enhance the fan experience.

If all those free tickets given out to school children are actually used it will be like sharing a departure lounge with a school sports day.

It could prove a long couple of hours if you turn up for the gates opening. In the case of the Honduras v Mexico, Spain v Japan double header that would mean getting to Hampden at 10am on a Thursday morning.

The only people who can reasonably be expected to ever arrive at Hampden that early in the morning tend to be voting on the future of the Scottish game.

Some of the rules and prohibited items are actually quite standard. Anybody taking a frisbee to a football game deserves to be used as target practice in the warm up.

But the po-faced dullness grates. Ticket holders received a text message advising them they were soon to receive an email. That email coupled with information on prohibited items runs to over 1200 words. That's without the "ticketing terms and conditions."

The enforced monopoly for Visa continues to rankle, part of the corporate whoring of the Olympics wonderfully punctured by The Spectator.

Berlin, Beijing, Britain. These days the hosts are almost an irrelevance, the International Olympic Committee are quite capable of realising their own vision of dystopia wherever they temporarily lay their hat.

(A hat available to buy from official merchandise outlets. If you pay with Visa.)

And, yes, I know I'm a bloody idiot for buying tickets in the first place. A hypocritical bloody idiot at that.

What can I say?

I'll shuffle into Hampden wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt under a bland logo free top.

Then I'll sit meekly in my allotted seat, head bowed in deference to Visa, Coca-Cola and McDonalds, the real gods of modern sport.

When it's all over I'll be able to say that I've been to an Olympic event.

And that, for now, is why the killjoys and the marketing men are winning.

The sport, the events and the athletes still have a pull, despite the hatred we may have of what the organisers stand for.

But one does wonder what they'll do if the gullible and the sports daft like me ever reach our tipping point.

The email and the list of prohibited items:

This email contains critical information about your Olympic Football event at Hampden Park.

If you have tickets for more than one London 2012 event, you may receive multiple emails. Please read each one carefully as important details, such as when to arrive and what you can and can’t bring, may vary. In particular, the Olympic Football Tournament has key differences to other events.

Arrive early so you have plenty of time to go through security: gates open two hours before kick-off of the first match in your session. It will be busy so expect to queue. You will need to empty your pockets before you go through security checks.

We strongly suggest you do not bring a bag: the security procedure for Football is different to other London 2012 venues. If you do bring a bag, your entry to the venue will be delayed and you may miss your event.

Read the lists of prohibited and restricted items for your venue: if you are carrying any of these items with you when you arrive, you will be asked to surrender it and won’t get it back. You cannot bring in liquids over 100ml. There are no storage facilities available.

Book your travel now to make sure you get to your event on time: the transport network will be much busier than usual and local transport arrangements for the stadium are different during the Games. The venue’s car parks will be closed and other parking and road restrictions will be in place for matches – see below for details of how to get to the stadium or read the travel information online.

Remember the only way to pay is by Visa (debit, credit or prepaid card) or cash: for details of services and facilities at your venue, check your venue information online. Food and drink outlets at Hampden Park accept cash only, and there are no ATM cash machines available inside.

Ticketing Terms and Conditions also apply. Ticket holders aged 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Inside the venue, please keep your ticket with you at all times. If you decide to leave, you won’t be allowed back in.

Things change, so check online!

View the latest sports schedule now now as there may have been changes since you received your tickets. Before you set off, check the weather and come prepared.

Travel information

Use the spectator journey planner to plan your journey and book your travel in advance. A free rail shuttle will be running from Glasgow Central station to Mount Florida, the recommended station for Hampden Park – from there, it’s around a 7-minute walk to the venue. Alternatively, you catch the free shuttle bus running from Buchanan bus station to the stadium.

Park-and-ride is also available, with spaces available for cars and minibuses. This service is not included in your event ticket and must be booked in advance. For larger groups, pre-booked coach parking is also available. We strongly recommend you make your final travel arrangements now for a more comfortable journey on the day.

Best wishes
London 2012 Ticketing team

Prohibited and restricted items – Hampden Park

Prohibited items are things you cannot bring into London 2012 venues – you won’t be allowed to enter venues if you’re carrying any of these items when you arrive. If you’re carrying an item that is illegal under UK law, or could be used in illegal activities, this will be escalated to the police.

There are no storage facilities available and if you surrender an item, you won’t be able to get it back.

Items that are prohibited from Hampden Park are:
  • Bottles, glass vessels, cans and containers
  • Banners, or other articles which could, or might be used as a weapon, or to cause annoyance or unnecessary obstruction or offence
  • Liquids, aerosols and gels in quantities greater than 100mls
  • Alcohol
  • Tents, placards, spray paint or any other item which could be used to demonstrate within the venue or sabotage property
  • More than one soft-sided bag of 25 litre capacity (you must be able to fit your bag under your seat
  • Walkie-talkies, phone jammers and radio scanners
  • Personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs (smart devices such as Android phones, iPhone and tablets are permitted inside venues, but must not be used as wireless access points to connect multiple devices)
  • Laser pointers and strobe lights
  • Items too large to be electronically screened
  • Bicycles, folding bikes, roller-skates and skateboards
  • Pets or animals (excluding service animals
  • All types of knives and bladed items, including pocket knives and knives carried as part of cultural dress
  • Offensive weapons or implements such as bayonets, flick knives, extendable batons, sharpened combs, modified belt buckles and loose blades modified into weapons
  • Personal protection sprays such as CS or pepper sprays
  • Firearms and ammunition (including replicas, component parts or any device suspected to be a firearm)
  • Fireworks, explosives, flares and smoke canisters
  • Hazardous and toxic materials
  • Controlled drugs, including substances which look like controlled drugs
  • Items that resemble prohibited items such as replica guns or hoax explosive devices
  • In addition, there are restrictions on the size and use of some items inside venues. Check with staff if you’re unsure about using an item inside venues, as some items may disrupt competition, obstruct the view of other spectators or create a safety hazard.

Items that are restricted in London 2012 venues are:

  • Large flags (bigger than 1 metre x 2 metres), banners and poles
  • Oversized hats
  • Large golf-style umbrellas
  • Large photographic and broadcast equipment over 30cm in length, including tripods and monopods. You cannot use photographic or broadcast equipment for commercial purposes unless you hold media accreditation
  • Excessive amounts of food
  • Balls, rackets, frisbees or similar objects or projectiles
  • Noisemakers such as hunting horns, air horns, klaxons, drums, vuvuzelas and whistles
  • Any objects or clothing bearing political statements or overt commercial identification intended for ‘ambush marketing’
  • Flags of countries not participating in the games (this excludes the flags of nations under the umbrella of a participating country such as England, Scotland and Wales)


  • You are allowed up to 10 containers of up to 100ml capacity each, giving a combined maximum capacity of 1 litre. Part-filled containers with a capacity greater than 100ml (excluding sun cream) are not allowed. You may bring up to 200ml of sun cream, but it must be in its original packaging and in a container with a maximum capacity of 200ml.
  • Essential medications must not exceed a combined total of 1 litre, and we recommend you bring a prescription or letter from your doctor to accompany it.
  • Drinks bottles and other containers are not allowed inside the venue, glass or otherwise, and there is nowhere to dispose of them at the venue entrance – so please don’t bring one.
  • Free drinking water will be available inside the venue, and soft drinks are available to purchase.

Hampden Park is an alcohol-free venue.

You will get through security more quickly if you keep all your liquids, aerosols and gels in a separate toiletry or plastic bag. There is no need to remove the bag containing your liquids from your main bag, unless specifically asked.

Baby food, baby milk and sterilised water are allowed into venues but must be carried in containers with a maximum capacity of 1 litre per baby. You may be asked to verify baby food by tasting it.

Examples include:
  • Soya milk for babies
  • Sterilised water for the baby
  • Formula, breast milk or cow milk specifically for babies
  • Baby food of various consistencies

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