Overcoming terror through sports

On Friday Nov. 13, a loud cracking sound could be heard within the Stade de France‎ while the French and German national teams played an international friendly.

Suddenly, a second loud pop in the air could be heard. Those sounds were the two bombs that exploded during the Paris terrorist attack, killing more than one hundred and thirty people.

Days later, the French national team would travel to play their rival England in London. Before the game both teams joined together in support of the victims of the attacks. Outside, the stadium armed guards stood in reactions to the events days earlier in Paris.

Scheduled to kick off at the same time in Hannover, the German national team was to play their rival, the Netherlands. However, in the minutes leading up to kickoff, the game was called off due to a security threat. The stadium was evacuated and police began searching the stadium for evidence of a terrorist attempt at the game. No further information has been released by authorities. But pictures and eyewitness accounts describe police officers checking under the seats within the stadium.

With the idea of terrorism in the minds of everyone within France, domestic Ligue 1, resumed play as schedule on Friday, Nov. 20. All ten games took place as schedule without incident as stadiums across France stepped up security in response to any threat. For many, it allowed the people of France to continue to enjoy their favourite sport.

For the citizens of Paris, domestic league play resumes on Saturday, Nov. 28 as Paris Saint-Germain plays ESTAC Troyes. PSG will wear jerseys reading “Je Suis Paris,” for that game, in place of a sponsor’s logo.

Following the terrorist acts, many European soccer pundits have discussed whether or not France should still host the UEFA European Championship next summer due to the security risks. Proponents of moving the tournament have lobbied Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA to move the tournament elsewhere to ensure the safety of both fans and players.

Frankly, it is a discussion that should not be entertained by either the French Football Federation or UEFA. France needs to host the event not just to prove to the world that the French people are not scared of terrorism, but to unite the country with pride and joy, the same pride and joy that united French citizens in 1998, when France hosted World Cup.

In the 1998 World Cup final, France upset heavily favoured Brazil behind the two goal performance of Zinedine Zidane. The son of Algerian refugees, Zidane and his teammates were able to united all of the French people under one flag. When the final whistle blew, France was sent into a joyful and prideful celebration, that united people across the country regardless of race or ethnicity.

France hosting Euro, not only proves that they are not scared of the terrorism, but that Europe is not scared. For a month long period, 24 European nations will face off in a competition to prove which nation has the best team. While at the same time, they will unite Europe in a common goal of peace, despite the ever presence threat of terrorism.


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