Bermudian Chris Moniz playing crucial role at World Cup in Qatar
“When I reflect on where I am today it’s funny to think that a guy from the tiny island of Bermuda is involved in of one of the biggest sporting events, the World Cup. It’s been an incredibly exciting journey.”
While the island will not be directly represented on the field at the World Cup, one Bermudian will be playing a vital role off it.
As thousands of fans from around the world descend on Qatar as one of the biggest sporting events in the world kicks off tomorrow, their safety throughout the tournament will be of paramount importance to one person in particular.
“My role means I’m basically in charge of anything that falls under security, from travel to and from destinations, seating, the stadiums and fan parks,” said Chris Moniz, Head of Security Operations for Adidas at the World Cup.
“That includes the opening ceremonies, group matches, as well as both semi-finals and the final, making sure our high-level delegates and VIP guests are taken care of and are safe at all times.
“There is a lot of preparation and pressure involved but the security measures at the event are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
After leaving Bermuda in 1986 to relocate to the United Kingdom before settling in Dubai, Moniz has forged a memorable career in security services, overseeing some of the most prestigious sporting events and major projects, while also looking after some of sport’s biggest names.
“I’ve been in Dubai for 29 years and moved over into executive protection 18 years ago,” he added. “I was involved in the first Rugby Sevens event here in Dubai in 1995 and then things like the Dubai Golf Challenge and Dubai World Cup horse racing event, which are major events over here.
“I was also involved with the Turkey Golf Masters for six years in what was a volatile environment at the time. I looked after the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, who I still consider friends to this day.
“In 2016 I took time away from the career because I was just burnt out from travelling all over the globe but shortly after I was headhunted to implement the security systems and procedures of the Louvre project in Abu Dhabi, which was just a huge job.
“It was a one-of-a-kind building and basically if you look at any of the security plans still in place today my name is all over them, which is pretty incredible.”
That vast experience not only in his area of expertise but knowledge of the region made the 62-year-old the perfect candidate to implement and oversee all security for major sponsor Adidas, after being contracted through English company Arslan Security in June.
Moniz is well aware he will need to lean on all of his previous experience to deal with the heightened scrutiny surrounding the tournament as Qatar comes under intense pressure over its suitability to host the World Cup since the decision was announced in 2010.
“Because the World Cup is being hosted in this part of the world there has been so much extra focus on the event and how it is going to run,” he added.
“Hosting it in the Middle East, in the winter time across one city, will bring some issues and I think people will have huge expectations that it will not run smoothly. You have to expect some problems when you have so many people in one area, it’s just a case of planning everything meticulously.
“Obviously you have to also take into account the cultural differences here. I’ve lived here long enough to understand those differences and I think people need to understand there are strict guidelines in place that they have to adhere to.”
Despite reservations, Moniz is adamant that excitement is building within the city of Doha as the big kick-off approaches.
“I know a lot has been said about holding this in the Middle East but it certainly feels like World Cup excitement is here,” he said. “You can certainly feel the excitement building and that buzzing atmosphere is definitely around.
“It’s one of those events where you are connecting people and cultures like never before and that’s really exciting. It’s amazing to be involved in an event like this and to see all of the work that has gone into it over the past ten years.
“I feel like I’ve had the journey of a lifetime; who would have thought a Bermudian would have an opportunity like this?”