Iraq And Brussels Terror Attacks Can't Stop Euro 2016
We need to talk about the suicide bombing that took place at a soccer stadium in Iskandariya, Iraq last Friday.
The terror attack claimed the lives of 41 people and wounded at least another 100, many of whom were children. It happened in a crowded stadium just south of Baghdad.
Al-Asriya, a police captain, reportedly said,
They were just handing the trophy to the winners, the suicide attacker blew himself up in the crowd.
This horrific event didn't take place in a theater, airport, metro station or busy city center.
Friday's attack serves as yet another chilling reminder terrorism has no field of play. No specified arena. No individual opponent.
Terrorists aim to kill, to cause fear and widespread panic.
Before Friday's incident in Iraq, the world was already shaking from the blasts in Belgium just a few days earlier. In Brussels, a series of attacks left 30 people dead and more than 230 injured.
Four months ago, a terror attack occurred in Paris, claiming the lives of 130 people.
In the aftermath of the Brussels attack, there were those who wondered why the same amount of coverage wasn't dedicated to recent terror attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey.
Similar sentiments were echoed in reference to terror attacks that occurred in the Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
In no way should these points be taken lightly. If you live in the Western world, your media coverage is going to be biased toward certain coverage. That's a reality.
However, to make this issue the focal point of conversation in the wake of such dastardly acts would be a massive mistake.
And an even bigger mistake would be to continue to listen to those who spread the ridiculous idea being a Muslim and being a terrorist are the same thing.
Collectively, we should be pointing our fingers at ISIS, which has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in Iraq.
From this horrific event, we should also take away the fact terrorism happens everywhere. It can even happen at a soccer stadium.
In the Paris terror attacks in November, three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France, the country's 81,000-seat national stadium and key host site for the upcoming European Championship, during a friendly match between France and Germany.
With that in mind, in the immediate aftermath of the Brussels attacks and before the Iraqi soccer stadium was targeted, there were those who called for this summer's UEFA European Championship, called The Euros, set to take place in France, to be postponed.
And while it would be a big mistake to cancel Euro 2016 altogether, it would be an even worse decision to have the tournament played in empty stadiums.
A big soccer match without supporters isn't a big soccer match at all. You may not be the biggest footy fan in the world, but you watched the World Cup in 2014. You saw the fans of every represented nation come together to celebrate soccer. To celebrate life, really.
Or, you went to a bar and realized how strong a sense of community the sport is capable of inspiring.
Excuse me for sounding like George W. Bush, but if the powers that be decide to call off the European Championship, or have the tournament played behind closed doors, we're letting the terrorists win.
The goal of terrorism is to disrupt the flow of normal life.
In the short term, that's carrying out attacks on human lives. In the long term, it seems like the goal of terrorist groups like ISIS is to have governments, agencies and businesses cancel or change events out of fear.
The security concerns engulfing Euro 2016 are certainly valid.
According to reports, about seven million people took to the designated fan zones, open public areas, at Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland. Each fan zone in France can reportedly hold anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 supporters, making them prime targets for an attack.
In light of recent terrorist attacks, however, it appears France isn't planning on sparing any security measures this summer. French Football Federation President Noël Le Graët claimed "the measures put in place are very thorough" and there will be "specialists of a very, very high level."
Those measures reportedly include fan zone sweeps at the beginning of each day of the tournament, as well as pat downs and the possibility of metal detectors at entrances. Those carrying large bags will reportedly be denied entry, and France will provide as much as 2 million euros for video cameras in fan zones alone.
It appears several players on the French national team share Graët's optimism. Speaking on the dangers of Euro and other soccer matches, defender Laurent Koscielny said,
No, I am not worried about our safety, the federation has put security measures in place. We are serene. Whether it's the French state or in Europe, everyone's taken exceptional security measures for the games in March and at the Euro.
Life continues, even though it's difficult given what happened in Belgium and France. We must try to give pleasure to the fans and to those watching on television. That's the only thing we can do.
In the face of global terrorism, the only thing we can do is continue to go about our daily lives.
Eat lunch in public places. Fly out of big airports. Take the train to work. Go to concerts.
And, for those planning on it or those who have the opportunity, go to Euro 2016, the Rio Olympics and every other global sporting event you can.