Commentary

Would you take your child to Euro 2016?

The cover of this week's France Football magazine is a cartoon of a father and son. Tears in his eyes, the son, holding a French flag in one hand and his father's hand in the other, asks his father, "Papa, tu m'emmèneras voir un match de l'Euro?" ("Papa, will you take me to see a Euro match?") It's a question fans will be asking in the aftermath of Friday's bombings in which Daesh kamikazes targeted the Stade de France during the France-Germany match?

As our Off the Post colleague Ross Fadner noted, the situation at the Stade de France could have been a lot worse -- a chauffeur waiting outside the stadium was killed and 31 other people injured when the three suicide bombers blew themselves up -- and should be regarded as a triumph for French security because had one or more bombs gone off inside the stadium, thousands more lives would have been at risk.

There was also an element of luck. The bombers likely did not know that all but three of the 20 gates into the Stade de France were going to be closed after the start of the match, leaving them with few options to try to make their way into the stadium. If they had simply blown themselves up a half an hour or hour before the game, one can only imagine the carnage that would have taken place.

I had friends and colleagues from France Football and L'Equipe inside the stadium. Some were working in the press box. Others were in the stands with their children. One was working in the press box and had his two daughters watching in the stands.

All noted how little panic there was at the Stade de France. Few fans knew what was going on thanks to the spotty cell service in the stadium. French authorities concluded it was safer that the fans stay in the stadium as the game continued and didn't open the gates to let fans to exit until about 10 minutes before the end of the game. Everything was orderly as fans made their way to their cars or the trains. They didn't think twice when others who were without cell phones or whose batteries had died asked to use their phones to call home.

On Monday, Belgian authorities called off the Belgium-Spain friendly scheduled to be played in Brussels on Tuesday, and German authorities ordered Hannover's HDI-Arena evacuated and the Germany-Netherlands game canceled, both because of security threats. There was no panic in the HDI-Arena as the evacuation took place because it happened more than a hour before the start of the game and few fans were in the stands.

But the measures authorities took to call of the matches -- both friendlies -- underline the tension that reigns in Europe over the Daesh threat. And all you need to watch the video of the crowd of nervous Parisians panic and stampede from Place de la Republique, where a memorial had been set up, after firecrackers were set off on Sunday to get an idea of what could happen in a crowd if a bomb did go off.

Would I want to take my son, now 21, to Euro 2016 in France? Before Friday, I was certainly considering it.

I haven't been to a European Championship since the 1980 tournament in Italy (where the problem was hooliganism) and don't know how many more tournaments I'll be up to attend. My son has never been to France, and it would be a great trip before he moves on with his life.

But after Friday night? I'll have to think long and hard.

One never knows what the situation in France or across Europe will be like in six months. But one can only imagine the security that will have to be put in place. Security perimeters around the stadiums will have to be extended, and host cities across will have to rethink the fan-fests they are required  to organize under the terms of their hosting agreement.

In an interview with L'Equipe on Saturday, Jacques Lambert, the head of the Euro 2016 organizing committee, said he dreaded that something like what happened Friday night in St. Denis would happen. ''I'm shocked by the cost of lives, which is terrifying," he said. "But unfortunately I'm not completely surprised.'' He was adamant that Euro 2016 would go forward but couldn't rule out it might be canceled. "Anything is possible," he said.

Just as getting on an airline in the United States has never been the same after Sept. 11, so too will getting into a stadium for a major sporting event in Europe never be the same after Nov. 13.
2 comments about "Would you take your child to Euro 2016?".
  1. Richard Brown, November 18, 2015 at 4:17 a.m.

    Yes, I would take my kids. I don't like the idea that I should be afraid to do anything because of those terrorist animals. I would also take my Grandson.

    I did the same right after 9/11?

    Right after 9/11 cops were everywhere both in uniform and plain clothes. So I always felt safe. Actually after 9/11 I felt hate for those terrorist. I had that want to get even feeling. I never lost that hate, to bad a lot of people did.

    I really don't go to funerals. I rather send flowers and Mass cards. Plus I don't think of death like most people do.

    But after 9/11 I went to some. One was a friend of my oldest son Jimmy Cole. He always wanted to be a fire fighter. He love it he would even go to the firehouse on his days off. WTC was hit on his day off he went with his firemen brothers that day. He died with them that day. So I went to his funeral to honor his life not to mourn his death. I miss that kid.

  2. Footballer Forever, November 20, 2015 at 1:17 p.m.

    What a silly question. Yes, i would still go. Onto the next topic.

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