ON JUNE 15 1996 the Provisional IRA detonated a van bomb in Manchester injuring hundreds of people and causing the following day’s Germany – Russia match at Old Trafford to be played amid heightened security.
The incident was largely swept under the rug and overshadowed by the widely perceived success of the tournament which captivated the four nations and saw Baddiel & Skinner and Paul Gascoigne lay their claims for immortality.
In the light of Brussels and Paris, it all seems like a far more innocent time and it’s not simply a case of looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses.
A senior UEFA official has now come forward with the suggestion that this year’s Euro 2016 tournament, scheduled to be held in France from June 10 to July 10, could be played behind closed doors.
Uefa executive committee vice-president Giancarlo Abete acknowledged there was little possibility of postponing the event but added “We can’t exclude the possibility of playing behind closed doors as we cannot exclude terrorism”.
The governing body of European football has already released a statement in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks which “reaffirmed its commitment in placing safety and security at the centre of its organisational plans for Euro 2016”.
There will be 51 matches played throughout the tournament at stadiums across France, including the Stade de France which has a capacity for more than 80,000 spectators.
Fan zones and stadium entrance will see enhanced security measures and sweeps for explosives as the French authorities have braced themselves following the terrorist atrocities in Paris late last year.
Political violence and sporting events have a long and bloody history with the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics being a prime example. The latest bloodshed, however, has been acutely targeted towards busy public places and designed to inflict maximum casualties.
The English national team travel to Berlin on Friday for their friendly match up with Germany on March 26 and stringent security measures are in place. A minute’s silence will be held before the match in honour of the 31 victims of Brussels.