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Is Arsene Wenger The Prophet Of Football?


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.

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  1. m

    March 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm


    You (the British in general I guess) fell victim of a rather squalid hype in British media. I browse through the net every day, literally, and search only this kind of information (terrace culture related). The new demonic senses/connections that have been recently added to the meaning of two words (Rome, ultras) are really frightening for me. Living in Poland I cannot understand how “ultra” may have become the ultimate synonym of football violence and terrorism – connecting it as part of football culture to militant guerrillas is a wee overinterpretation. But that’s just a general thougth on poor condition of mass media today – they base on fears, not facts. And that has been proven years back, gets confirmed now and again since the 70s quite regularly.

    The thing is, facts don’t get this much attention because… they are actually almost opposite. Just recently the Italian govt released report on safety in football grounds, like British interior ministry does each year. Facts show a significant decrease in violence. We observe the same in Poland while reading safety reports, but when reading press it seems quite opposite – the outcry of media is growing. Why? Fear sells.

    So my advice (which I have to take myself as well) is to go out and enjoy life a bit, smile at people and not bother one’s mind with too much media talk. It’s only part of the truth – at best. We all forget about it sometimes.

    Thanks for your entry and I hope none of the fears you’ve described will fulfill.

  2. Ahmed

    March 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Don’t let facts get in the way of a great story. Wenger made those comments AFTER the event, and in all likelihood after he was asked by a reporter if something like this was possible in football.

    As someone who lives in Pakistan and has witnessed first hand the impact of terrorist attacks on a society over the last few years, a few comments:

    a) The history of football is littered with violence. It doesn’t happen in England that much (any more), but when sport is the channel through which a society expresses it’s socio-politico-economic frustrations, things can go wrong and when there’s inadequate law enforcement (something you’ll find as a very common occurrence in most parts of the world), people get hurt. Some get killed. More on this here.

    b) It’s not a matter of ‘when’. It’s happened already. Rome, when United fans are beaten by the Roman police while Roma fans, who had provoked their rivals by charging at the dividing wall and throw bottles over the top, pointed and laughed. It happens when people get shot in gang faceoffs in Argentina, it happens when players beat up refs and fans beat up other fans.

    You think that’s not terrorism? I think we’ve made a huge mistake by accepting violence as a ‘natural’ outcome of passionate football support. Opposition fans are ‘targeted’, they are attacked and they quite often end up injured, while their attackers get away scot free.

    Sounds a lot like the shootings in Lahore to me, with one difference – people actually thought that was ‘not normal’.

    Chris – to be fair, I’m enjoying the fact that you’ve brought on new writers. I would recommend asking them to link out more to news sources / quotes – because if Stacy had linked to the original post showing Wenger’s quotes she might even have corrected her mistake at the start 🙂


  3. Dano

    March 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    You know how I know this is a Man U biased blog? Liverpool win 5-0 against Villa yesterday and there are zero posts talking about the potential for an exciting finish to the season.

    Man U lose 2-0 at Fulham and there are two posts extolling on us how awful the ref was and how Ronaldo needs to pull up his socks.

    Newsflash – EPL is more than just Manchester United. People like hearing about lower table battles too, and I think the drama from the past weekend at least warrants a post about the weeks to come and potential for upsets.

    Please, Gaffer… get on it. Otherwise I’ll be forced to submit some writing samples in the hopes that you’d hire a non-English football fan to write for this blog which is quickly going downhill due to a lack of variation and style.

  4. ArthurArseGooner

    March 23, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    its nice to see an arsenal fan write on this site finally.

  5. wandarah

    March 23, 2009 at 11:54 am

    wenger made his comments in response to, and *after* the attack in pakistan.

    carry on…

  6. john

    March 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

    whats the film called?

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