As banners began to unfold with cheeky jokes, they replied with insulting songs. Eventually, it was too much to handle for a man, who, in William Wallace vehemence, descended onto the field carrying an iron bar, instigating what eventually lead to the infamous football riot in Egypt last year. On February 1, 2012, a local league football match between Cario’s Al Ahly and Port Said’s Al Masry turned ugly when a large number of fans ran on to the field, attacking each other and everything that came in their way. The fights initially began on the stands and poured onto the streets, eventually causing riots and massive civil unrest in different cities in Egypt protesting the events and resulting in 73 deaths and at least another 1000 injured, making it one of the worst disasters in the history of football.
Normally, you would imagine such events are more likely to occur in a country that is undergoing civil unrest, especially in the caliber of the current situation in Egypt. The reality is, such events can take place anywhere and anytime. In 2012, many incidents caused by fan violence took place in stable countries like England and America. Violence is a common epidemic and must be understood that due to the high passion involved, no country is immune to violence igniting.
Over the past weeks, the football scene in the UAE has been caught up with the recent fan violence that occurred during a local football game between Al Ahli and Al Ain. The referee, Mohammed Al Mehairi, had to undergo intensive treatment to an open wound on his head, inflicted by an object thrown from the fan’s section of the stadium. The event forced the game to be cancelled with the host club Al Ahli heavily fined and penalized points in their league standing.
Officials and representatives from different sectors strongly condemned the incident and strongly reminded everyone that any action of this sort is not part of the UAE’s sporting culture and will not be tolerated. In addition to the strict condemnation, entities and authorities from across the country stood together on the unified decision that this incident will be dealt with immediately and the response will be severe. That being said, we should not treat this incident as a one-off case and should take all the precautions necessary to prevent such an episode from seeing the light of day in the future. For such measures, we need to tackle the issue within its behavioral roots.
Behavior in the sports world is an attribute of sportsmanship. It is an attitude that is ingrained in us and must be groomed as the years go by. Children, as early as they begin participating in activities, must learn that in defeat lies many lessons and learning from them is more rewarding in the long run than refusing to lose. To enforce this, children must be educated on a sportsmanship code by both parents and coaches alike to be able to draw the line and outline the boundaries of fair play and what is considered violence. As for spectators, they need to be educated constantly through leaflets and awareness programs. Fans must be aware that any misbehavior on their behalf can lead to their teams being penalized and they personally could be prosecuted. In the event where violence takes place, the consequences need to be strict and without exceptions. By setting this type of standard, fans will be aware that if they partake in any sort of violence, it can have a direct impact on their future and their beloved team.
Khalifa was born and raised in the UAE, with a 4 and bit years university stint in the Canadian lands, before coming back home to work for one of the investment arms of the Abu Dhabi government. Inspired to be the Ray Romano of the magazine, only as a sports journalist that is.
Khalifa believes the world of sports never gets the credit it deserves for its impact on this world. For some, its mere entertainment, but for some its soul therapy and sometimes, survival. In this sports universe, deep in its pockets, he was able to find a lot of pleasure reading for sports journalists like Phil Ball, Gabriel Marcotti, among many others. Considering some of his favorite literature comes from sports writers, he will use this column titled “Tifosi”, which stands for “fan” in Italian, to share this passion with others by discussing sport events that can relate to both fanatics and non fanatics.
Latest posts by Khalifa Al Hajeri (see all)
- A Sports Fan In A Sport City - March 1, 2015
- Moving Towards Individualistic Sports - February 1, 2014
- The Impact of Hosting Major International Sports Events - January 1, 2014