Securing the Africa Cup of Nations amidst regional terror challenges

9 February 2024
Global police collaboration key to safeguarding Africa’s top football event

ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire – INTERPOL has deployed a special intelligence support team to a high-risk terrorism zone in West Africa to support Côte d’Ivoire in maintaining a safe environment for Africa’s Cup of Nations - CAN.

From 13 January to 11 February, the Africa Cup brings 24 national soccer teams to Côte d’Ivoire to compete in the cities of Abidjan, Bouaké, Korhogo, San Pedro and the capital Yamoussoukro.

To make the event as safe as possible for the three million fans travelling to Côte d’Ivoire, local police are working with INTERPOL to make sure frontline officers have the global INTERPOL tools they need to detect dangerous individuals at border checkpoints.

An INTERPOL expert team is working with Côte d'Ivoire's national police to cross-reference passenger manifests for all incoming flights against INTERPOL's criminal databases. The objective is to identify any suspected criminals in-flight and enable Ivorian authorities to apprehend individuals listed in INTERPOL's databases upon their arrival.

Côte d'Ivoire is located near the Sahel region where extremist terrorist groups often clash. To prevent spill-over into Cote d’Ivoire during the CAN, police across the country have been equipped to also perform biometric checks against records of suspected terrorists.

INTERPOL sent a specialized intelligence support team to assist Côte d’Ivoire in ensuring a secure Africa’s Cup of Nations 2024.
Local police joined forces with INTERPOL on the ground to make sure officers had the data they needed to quickly identify criminals
INTERPOL's mobile device is a handheld tool designed to give frontline officers immediate access to INTERPOL's criminal databases.
The INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Abidjan trained officers across Cote d’Ivoire to use INTERPOL's mobile devices to identify crime and criminals on-site.
General Youssouf Kouyate, Côte d’Ivoire’s Director of National Police (centre) rallies frontline officers for their event security mission.
The INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Abidjan which is part of Côte d’Ivoire’s national police force, played a strategic role in securing the event.
From 13 January to 11 February 2024, the Africa Cup brought 24 national soccer teams to Côte d’Ivoire to compete.

General Youssouf Kouyate, Côte d’Ivoire’s Director of National Police, said:

“High profile sporting events attract significant global attention, making them great targets for terrorist groups seeking to spread fear.  Ensuring the safety of fans, players and support staff involves complex security operations which must necessarily go beyond national borders.

“INTERPOL's comprehensive support to Côte d'Ivoire for this event ensures that the joy of football is not overshadowed by security threats.”

Cyril Gout, INTERPOL’s Acting Executive Director of Police Services, said:

“Hosting the Africa Cup of Nations is a monumental task, but as a key part of a strong global police network of law enforcement in 196 countries, Côte d'Ivoire was not left alone to make it safe. 

“Thanks to strong international police cooperation, Côte d’Ivoire police is an essential component of a larger law enforcement family, uniting global resources and expertise to ensure the safety of all - from the local communities of Côte d'Ivoire to the international guests.”

The Abidjan INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), which is part of Côte d’Ivoire’s national police force, is also playing a strategic role in making the CAN a safe place for fans.

As part of a long-term strategy to keep the country safe, the NCB ensured that sea, air, and land borders were connected to INTERPOL systems ahead of the Africa Cup so that police could spot and stop criminals trying to enter the country.

The NCB trained officers nationwide to use INTERPOL's criminal databases and provided stadium security with mobile devices to identify potential criminals on-site.   It also worked with WAPIS to facilitate comprehensive data cross-checks against national, regional, and global databases.

West Africa Police Information System (WAPIS)

WAPIS is funded by the European Union and implemented by INTERPOL to boost regional security.  It gives police forces real-time access to national and regional databases so that frontline officers can swiftly identify crime and criminals.

Its comprehensive information system helps maintain security by enabling swift and efficient identification and tracking of potential threats, enhancing collaboration among law enforcement agencies, and improving responses to security concerns that arise during the event.

Building regional expertise

Ahead of the CAN, INTERPOL delivered specialized training sessions for local law enforcement and security staff, focusing on INTERPOL databases and the importance of sharing intelligence with the global law enforcement community.

With the increasing reliance on digital infrastructure for such events, INTERPOL has also provided support in cybersecurity, ensuring the safety of communication and operational networks.

INTERPOL can assist a country in making high-profile events safer through various means, including intelligence sharing, database access, expert counsel, training, operational support, border management, and intelligence sharing with police forces in 196 countries across the globe.