Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Violence in Sport

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 12:00 AMJennifer Ellison-Brown, Contributor
Chelsea's John Terry (right) holds back Stoke City's Jonathan Walters (centre) as he reacts to a foul during an English Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.

In some sports, it is hardly ever heard of athletes being violent or rude during events. Athletics, swimming and gymnastics are examples. In other sports, violence is quite common, team sport in particular. However, it is debatable whether sport is becoming more violent or whether the presence of the media, and especially the use of TV action replays, simply make it more obvious. It is often the need to win that leads to violence. If the opposition's best player is injured, they can no longer play a full role in the game. Although a professional foul may result in a penalty, there is a good chance that the goalkeeper will save it.

Violence can also be caused by pent-up frustration: when the match is not going their way, players may get angry and vent their aggression on opponents or officials. In 2013, Liverpool footballer Luis Saurez was banned for 10 matches for biting an opponent. These same pressures and frustrations can affect spectators as well. Spectators are very passionate, and fans often experience extreme emotions when supporting their team, especially at key matches. Football is a typical example of sport that attracts the biggest crowd and gives rise to problems of verbal and racial abuse directed at players and officials.

 

Hooliganism

 

As a spectator, you help sport, but you can also harm it. Football hooligans are an example, and they ruin events by fighting the opposing fans. They throw stones, bottles and other weapons onto the field, and smash streets and pubs around the venues. Hooliga-nism is often planned in advance; some is linked to racist groups. It is a problem, not just for the police or the clubs, but for all of society.

The problem of football hooliganism has received a lot of attention. It has long been called the English disease, as there has been a problem there since the 1960's. However, in recent years, the British government and the FA have done much to try and reduce football-related violence. However, incidents both on and off the field are reported throughout the world. Spectator behaviour and the safety aspects of football grounds led to the implementation of safety measures resulting from the findings of the 'Taylor Report'. Some of the steps taken to fight hooliganism include fencing at venues to keep racial fans apart, closed-circuit TV

cameras around venues, membership schemes to make it easier to ban troublemakers, a ban by some clubs on all away fans, police in different cities sharing information about known hooligans, and passing on warnings about them and preventing known hooligans from travelling abroad when international matches are scheduled to take place.

 

Racism and Terrorism

 

Violence in the form of racism and terrorism also affects sports. Sadly, there is a lot of evidence of racism in sport; the more obvious is seen in the behaviour of the crowds and sometimes the players. In 2012, the Serbian FA were fined when their fans made monkey noises directed at a black player in an Under-21 match against England. Racism is also seen in the selection of players and coaches. The Apartheid system that operated in South Africa in the 1990s was the most extreme form of racism ever seen.

Terrorists target sporting events occasionally to publicise their cause. They usually target high-profile games for such attacks to get maximum impact, for example, the Munich Olympics in 1972. In 2009, Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan were fired upon and eight people killed in an attack believed to be led by Islamic militants. Another well-known case is the Boston marathon in 2013, where three people were killed and more than 260 injured when a bomb exploded near to the finish line. The Chechen attackers were said to be radicalised Islamists intent on causing mass destruction. The event usually continues despite the grief and devastation, sending a message that sport will not be beaten. Security checks on fans, video surveillance and the use of intelligence information are used to ensure safety.