Unfortunately this is exactly the kind of thing that terrorists want to happen.
The goal of terrorism is to exert control through fear; to make people so afraid that they no longer have the will to live as they normally would do.
Europe is on edge after the bombings in Belgium on Monday. Nations across the world, including the United States, are on high alert and trying to guard against the next attack that will inevitably come.
No option can be dismissed if it can prevent an attack and save lives.
Still, that mindset comes at a cost.
I cannot blame Union of European Football Associations executive committee vice-president Giancarlo Abete for floating the idea on Wednesday that matches at this summer’s European Championship Tournament in France could be played behind closed doors – meaning without fans in attendance.
“Security is the problem for all of us,” Abete told Italian all-news station Radio 24. “The sporting event is only secondary to the issue of people’s security.”
I don’t think anyone would disagree with that, and considering the last two major terrorist attacks have occurred in France and now neighboring Belgium, the security for Europa will come under scrutiny.
“The last two World Cups, first in South Africa and then in Brazil were both characterized by the risk of incidents and social tension for different reasons. It is something that unfortunately the world of sport has to live with,” Abete said.
Again, I agree. But is it truly living with something if an event has to be so dramatically altered that its entire purpose is thrown away because of fear?
The European Championships are the second biggest event in soccer to the World Cup. It is a moment of competition but also a celebration of Europe’s ability to put differences aside in the spirit of athletic participation.
Nothing that Abete said can be reasonably argued, but now was not the time to put that suggestion into the public domain – not while the rubble is just starting to be cleared at the airport in Brussels.
UEFA should have discussions about crisis situations, but they should be behind closed doors and not publicly where terrorists can use them as propaganda to further their sick and destructive cause.
Not long after Abete’s quotes went out across the world UEFA issued a statement saying, “We are confident that all security measures will be in place for a safe and festive Euro and therefor there are no plans to play matches behind closed doors.
“However, we are nevertheless working on contingency plans and on multiple scenarios around crisis situations since we take the security of all participants (players, fans, etc.) very seriously.”
Abete was being realistic. He said something practical and sensible.