Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has never held back on mincing words when it comes to the state of affairs in football today and his recent comments about the possibility of a militant attack on a football stadium almost came to fruition in Pakistan. The Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in a pre-planned terrorist attack. And to be honest, I’m surprised that this sort of attack hasn’t happened in the soccer world.
A recent story on the BBC discussed how an Iraqi player was shot just as he was to score the equalizing goal in an intense match between bitter rivals. The shooter was caught, but who’s to say that this wouldn’t happen somewhere else?
We see/hear stories just about anytime there are matches with teams that have the “Ultra”-type of supporter. I’m not going to go through the list of teams, I’m sure that any self-deserving fan of the game we all love is well aware of who these teams are. I will say that a supporter of my own beloved Arsenal was attacked in Rome after the Champions League match with AS Roma last week.
A recently released movie, Incendiary, tells the story of an unnamed young mother who loses her policeman husband and young son at an Arsenal match. She is not without character flaws herself and witnesses the bombing attack on the tube in the middle of a tryst with another man. Originally based on a book by Chris Cleave, the story follows the mother as she begins her own investigation into the bombing and writes an open letter to Osama Bin Laden pleading him to stop making “boy-shaped holes” in the world. Michelle Williams plays the lead role with a conviction rarely seen and after a while into the movie, one begins to relate to the tribulations of the character. She is riveting to watch while the guilt pangs and shattered life begins to slowly get back together.
As the story progresses, Orwell’s 1984 is somewhat touched upon as certain members of society are no longer allowed to work in hospitals, curfews begin in London…culminating in a police-state for England. While this happens, Williams’ character slowly edges towards insanity and discovers an ugly truth behind the initial bombing attacks.
The very fortunate thing is that we, as footy fans, have not ever actually witnessed this sort of event. We have seen unfortunate events such as Hillsborough, the events in Africa, South America, etc. where stampedes have killed and injured supporters, but nothing to the level as shown in Incendiary.
Getting back to Wenger’s statements, his fears that security measures should be investigated and possibly even improved came shortly after the Ultra attack in Rome; he mentioned that the club has received threats and in the recent interview concerning the stadium attacks, he also stated that he fears an attack during the next World Cup. Sports are the number one draw for crowds of people to attend each year. We’ve seen video of cafes and train stations attacked in broad daylight; we see and hear stories of suicide bombers in Iraq, Israel and other countries. Yet we get on with our daily lives as if we’re impervious to this sort of attack…but are we really?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stated recently that he fears for this sort of attack to happen soon and after an Arsenal fan was attacked in Rome by one of the AS Roma “Ultras”, again stated that he feared that security measures must be improved at all stadiums; especially those at international levels due to the current state of the world.
While the shooters in Pakistan are still at large, the shooter in Iraq was arrested, but it begs to question…is this just the beginning? I personally do not care for the doom and gloom that runs rampant in media today. I tend to ignore that sort of reporting, but as someone who do dearly loves this sport and has been involved at various levels for over 30 years now, I have to wonder…it’s not a matter of if, but when.