Soccer and Terrorism

By | March 28, 2016

With terrorism garnering the majority of news headlines in the recent months and weeks, it is hard not to think of it impacting every aspect of daily life. Unfortunately, soccer is not immune from the dangers of terrorism. In fact, soccer matches have often been the target of many terrorist attacks, as stadiums are prime locations for mass gatherings of people. The most recent terrorist attack at a soccer match occurred in Iskandariya, Iraq on Friday, March 25th during an amateur game. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which claimed the lives of at least 26 people, and came only days after its attack in Brussels. The fact that a soccer match was the target of an ISIS attack makes it even more chilling for soccer fans across the globe as reality sets in that we might not be safe attending matches that give us immense happiness and joy. Furthermore, it brings up the possibility that a large-scale terrorist attack could occur at a major match or tournament.

During the ISIS attacks in Paris last November, a suicide bomber detonated his bomb right outside of the Stade de France, during a friendly between the French and German national teams. That attack and the most recent one in Belgium has drawn considerable concern for upcoming soccer matches. Specifically, terrorism could have an unwanted impact in the upcoming UEFA EURO 2016, which will coincidently be taking place in France this summer. UEFA says it is taking steps to ensure safety for both players, spectators, and coaches and have not eliminated the possibility of playing matches without fans if need be. However, UEFA has insisted that they have not considered the idea of cancelling the tournament altogether in light of the recent attacks. It is unfortunate that we live in a time in which soccer matches can be viewed as pivotal sites for terrorist groups, but I am in agreement with UEFA in that we should not completely give into the possible threats that ISIS and other terrorist groups place on the game. If UEFA believes that it can accurately assess the legitimacy of the danger that comes with playing in the EURO cup, then they tournament should be played as a sign of strength. Security of all those involved in the match is of course of utmost importance, but a clear message must be sent to the terrorists that they cannot dictate soccer’s prominent role in society.

 

3 thoughts on “Soccer and Terrorism

  1. Austin Tran

    While I agree that security for these large sporting events should be thoroughly analyzed for weaknesses and improved upon, I find it even more disturbing that there is public consideration of playing the Euros behind closed doors. This is because the sole purpose of terrorism is to exert control through fear; to make people so afraid that they no longer have the will to live as they normally would. There is no reasonable argument against the boards consideration to move it behind doors, but they could do so in private, where terrorist organizations do not have the benefit of using this fear as propaganda to further their horrific cause.

    But this is not to say that security at stadiums need not increase. The best way to do this is to anticipate the terrorist mindset and try to act proactively in deterring any potential harm. Sports events are popular targets for many reasons; they draw large physical crowds of mainly western spectators and they attract national and international media spotlight due to the sports lack of political and ideological boundaries. But what is interesting to note is that even though the events are the overall target, the actual terrorists who perpetrate these acts are encouraged to wait until after the end of the match to inflict violence. In an article published by the AQAP, an al-Qaeda based affiliate in Yemen, they stated, “You have the soccer (football) stadiums especially during Premier League and FA Cup matches. They have worldwide life [sic] media coverage. The best time is after the final whistle, when huge crowds leave the stadium and celebrate around the entrances.” While security before and during the game are important, knowing that the main terrorist focus is on the celebrations after the event allows security forces to tailor their methods to better combat terrorism. In the end, the UEFA board should not play into the hands of the terrorists and play the games behind closed doors, rather they should become a symbol of resilience and demonstrate to the world that their heinous crimes cannot hijack and bend the world to their will.

    http://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/the-dominion-post/20140324/282157879200290/TextView

    Reply
  2. Austin Tran

    While I agree that security for these large sporting events should be thoroughly analyzed for weaknesses and improved upon, I find it even more disturbing that there is public consideration of playing the Euros behind closed doors. This is because the sole purpose of terrorism is to exert control through fear; to make people so afraid that they no longer have the will to live as they normally would. There is no reasonable argument against the boards consideration to move it behind doors, but they could do so in private, where terrorist organizations do not have the benefit of using this fear as propaganda to further their horrific cause.

    But this is not to say that security at stadiums need not increase. The best way to do this is to anticipate the terrorist mindset and try to act proactively in deterring any potential harm. Sports events are popular targets for many reasons; they draw large physical crowds of mainly western spectators and they attract national and international media spotlight due to the sports lack of political and ideological boundaries. But what is interesting to note is that even though the events are the overall target, the actual terrorists who perpetrate these acts are encouraged to wait until after the end of the match to inflict violence. In an article published by the AQAP, an al-Qaeda based affiliate in Yemen, they stated, “You have the soccer (football) stadiums especially during Premier League and FA Cup matches. They have worldwide life [sic] media coverage. The best time is after the final whistle, when huge crowds leave the stadium and celebrate around the entrances.” While security before and during the game are important, knowing that the main terrorist focus is on the celebrations after the event allows security forces to tailor their methods to better combat terrorism. In the end, the UEFA board should not play into the hands of the terrorists and play the games behind closed doors, rather they should become a symbol of resilience and demonstrate to the world that their heinous crimes cannot hijack and bend the world to their will.

    http://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/the-dominion-post/20140324/282157879200290/TextView

    Reply
  3. Nick Salzman

    I find it interesting that soccer stadiums around the world have not increased security outside and inside the stadiums. In the United States, I have noticed and read about the increased security measures taken at major sporting events. Sporting stadiums are clear targets for terrorists because they gather large groups of people. In countries with less money and central intelligence, I think that a big question arises on how to successfully prevent these random acts of violence.

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