In the wake of the November 13 terrorist attacks, the Bundesliga is beefing up security. Deutsche Welle’s Joscha Weber approves of the new measures but says the league must stick to them.
The Bundesliga this weekend featured scenes of police with high-caliber weapons, strict security at stadium entrances, increased video surveillance, searches of motor vehicles and long lines in front of arenas. After the terrorist attacks in Paris and the cancelled friendly between Germany and the Netherlands in Hannover, the league has gotten very serious about safety. Security forces were out in numbers in stadiums throughout Germany – and rightly so.
Most Europeans assume that the places where they spend their free time – cinemas, bars, concerts, shopping malls and sports events – are safe. They may feel ill-at-ease at the sight of police patrolling with machine guns or when security men pat down them and their children. But they’re going to have to get used to it. Such measures are needed to save lives and ensure that we can continue to enjoy things like football matches.
And that won’t change any time soon.
Sport in the sights of terrorism
It would be a potentially fatal mistake to think that the danger of terrorism were over and done with after one comparatively “normal” round of play. Police and security officials need to stay on their toes. Sports are a target of terrorism.
They have been since the assassination of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. In 2013, bombers attacked the Boston Marathon, and attacks were also foiled at the 2014 winter Games and the Frankfurt Classics cycling race this year.
Sporting events are attractive targets for terrorists because they entail large groups of people, easy access and live television broadcasts. The terrorists in Paris were no doubt attracted by the prospect of turning a peaceful attraction into a bloody battlefield while the media’s cameras rolled. Sporting events are vulnerable. That’s why they need enhanced protection.
The price of security
The monetary costs of enhanced security will have to be borne by governments and those who stage sporting events. Supporters will “pay” with longer waiting times in front of arenas and security searches.
And terrorists aren’t the only threat. Hooligan supporters of Bayern Munich and Bochum ransacked a ticket booth in Gelsenkirchen this weekend, while Hannover fans badly damaged a local train on their way to Mönchengladbach – despite the tense climate in which this matchday took place. These incidents could have had far more serious consequences.
Contrast that with the moving scenes we saw in Bundesliga stadiums this weekend: minutes of silence, white doves of peace, French flags on prominent display and fans chanting their solidarity with the victims of Paris. Such messages can only be heard, if we feel safe in stadiums.