The Impact of Paris Attacks on International Football
The world has been stunned and traumatised since the evening of Friday 13th November, in the wake of several large scale terrorist attacks that broke out in Paris. This has been one of the most recent developments in the mass threat posed by ISIS, which could have resulted in even more disturbing consequences. The BBC reported that 129 people were killed following the terrorist attacks that shook Paris, although this figure has been expected to increase due to serious casualties that have since been hospitalised (and may be subject to rising, depending on when reading).
One of the places spotlighted during the attacks in the city occurred outside the Stade de France, at which time, the French national football team were playing a friendly against current World Champions, Germany. The three suicide bombers that were reported to kill themselves outside the venue had also allegedly attempted to enter the building. In this article, I will endeavour to consider what further severity could have unfolded had those bombs obliterated the inner stadium, and, therefore, teams on the field, as well as what will come next for international football.
Friday 13th November, Paris
The 80,000-capacity Stade de France was hosting a friendly meeting between its national side, France, and current international icons of world football, Germany, on Friday night. The match lasted its 90-minute duration, and few were non-the-wiser, until it was reported that French President, François Hollande, was among the crowd and hastily evacuated upon news of the violence breaking out in the capital. Although the full fixture was played, shots or explosions were audible, although the crowd remained mostly calm. It wasn’t until just after the game that people began to learn of the horror wreaking across Paris.
Goal.com commented on how Manchester United midfielder and German whizz, Bastian Schweinsteiger, was left “speechless” after the attacks, during which time he had spent the full 90 minutes against France, which ended 2-0 to the home stars. As aforementioned, three suicide bombers acted with intent outside the stadium, seizing their own lives, and it has since come to light that they tried to enter the stadium. It is the ramifications of this that I will later consider; after all, what could the impact have been at the Stade de France alone?
Meanwhile, Sports Mole mentioned that journalist, Martin Roschitz, had been among those to begin informing the players and so forth after the match. However, due to later substitution, Jérôme Boateng had been able to read about the attacks via smartphone during the second half, so he was also suddenly able to gather facts and spread the news. During which time, French players Lassana Diarra and Antoine Griezmann both sustained 80 minutes of play on the field, but possessed scarce knowledge of the safety, or lack thereof, of their families. It later emerged that (as FourFourTwo divulge) Diarra’s cousin, Asta Diakite, was sadly among those who were fatal victims of the attacks, whilst Griezmann’s sister managed to, fortunately, survive the brutality at the Bataclan, during the performance of Eagles of Death Metal.
The Guardian commented on how the German squad were advised to bed down in the stadium, rather than risking a return to their hotel after the game, amidst the violence and terror reigning outside. This was certainly sensible, not least because The Guardian also disclosed, prior to the tragic events of Friday evening, that Germany had been promptly evacuated from their hotel in the morning after an anonymous call tendered information about a bomb threat. Without giving much of an opinion about this and without speculating about its coincidence, this certainly seems suspicious.
Hundreds of innocent citizens have been affected by the Paris attacks, but, had both international squads and fans in the crowd been hurt, there would have been even more major ramifications and consequences if the bombs had blasted within the stadium. Football would have been left in tatters, and this would have come at a time that FIFA has already been shredded through rumours of bribery and corruption, and fans across the globe would have been in mass outrage, no doubt. Although the sport only comes under the umbrella of entertainment, a luxury viewing, if you will, the situation rapidly becomes one of genuine struggle on both a combined and individual level, outside the usual realms of transfers, price tags and weekly fixtures. Things become that bit more real.
It is distressing enough that Lassana Diarra has lost a cousin to the attacks, and that links football to the terror, but it would have been much more catastrophic if more among the stadium had been struck with the violence and horror of Friday night. Whether the targets played the sport or not, they are – and could have been on a much vaster scale – now associated with the harrowing events. France have always had a rich footballing history, as have Germany, but the Germans hoisted the World Cup last year and currently hold that title, so, if the teams had been more directly affected, then that would have drawn in every football fan and nationality with any interest in the match. It could have been even more frightening.
There is no denying that football supporters, as with all civilians across Europe and beyond, will be fearful about the future. In terms of football, with more upcoming international fixtures, as well as the weekly rounds that will resume fairly soon, this means that security will have to tighten hugely in order to reassure members of the crowd. Major safety measures will no doubt be in place across the continent, to offer security for all in attendance. Squads may also have to be more vigilant themselves, now, but teams cannot forgo playing matches simply out of risk or fear; across football, people must assume some semblance of normality, but react appropriately if something does happen. The future of international football during this current break from league action might be somewhat insecure, but authorities have deemed it fine to proceed with upcoming fixtures.
It could have been totally coincidental that a huge match was on during the attacks, so the sport and footballers may be completely exempt from the target pool, but it would be worthwhile to enable caution. At present, Goal.com, alongside The Guardian and others, have stated that the French Football Federation has offered the green light to the upcoming friendly between France and England at Wembley Stadium this Tuesday. Let’s hope that what brings so much pleasure to and identifies with so many across the world will not be affected any further.