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.