Football Tragedies: When the beautiful game is literally a matter of life and death
Universally referred to as the beautiful game, football is played by hundreds of millions of people and watched by billions of fans each year. It is hailed as the open sesame to sports heaven by many because of the dazzling skills of the players who seen to weave a magic wand by simply kicking a ball with the feet. Soccer also serves to bring different people and cultures together and can even bring enemies together, as witnessed in the Ivory Coast when the national soccer team helped warring parties come to a truce. On the other hand, soccer is no stranger to tragedies and disasters.
The most shocking of these have been the deaths of footballers while playing on the field. Right from the late 19th century when William Cropper ruptured his bowels against Grimsby Town and died the next day to the death of Jenaine Christelle Djomnang who died of a supposed heart-attack in a warm-up before a match this year, umpteen players from various parts of the world have died while playing a game, directly from injuries sustained while playing, or after being taken ill on the pitch. The causes of death have been as diverse as pneumonia while playing, tetanus caused by on-field injuries, cardiac arrest or heart attacks during matches, fatal injuries sustained because of collision with opposition players and even because of being struck by lightning during matches or warm-up sessions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_association_footballers_who_died_while_playing. No less tragic and gruesome have the career-threatening injuries sustained by footballers on the field. The name of Jeremy Menez who recently had a part of his ear torn off during a clash with an opposition player immediately springs to the mind, but footballers have been bearing the brunt of opposition players’ tackles from time immemorial. From broken legs to fractured skulls to damaged vertebrae and broken jaw, this game has seen it all. It is significant that though some of the injuries led to the players retiring from professional football, others have shown remarkable resilience and returned to the game only after a few months.
Of course, it has not only been footballers but the spectators, the fans and the supporters, who have been the victims of so many football disasters. As is well known, inefficient emergency policies, inadequate security measures and poorly designed or built stadiums can all contribute to creating a potentially deadly environment for players and fans. Lacking policies to deal with emergencies in the stands can place fans in danger and help bring about panic mentality. Equally, heavy handed tactics, including beatings and the use of rubber bullets and tear-gas can further anger or panic fans, making the situation worse. If all of this happens in a poorly designed or built stadium, the potential for disaster is only magnified as thousands are placed in danger of being trampled, beaten or burned. To begin with, here’s a look at some of the worst football disasters over the years http://oddculture.com/historys-top-15-worst-soccer-disasters/
Football has also been witness to several other heart-breaking events, like the Munich Air disaster on 6th February 1958 when a British Europeans Airways flight containing the players of the Manchester United football team crashed while trying to take off, killing 20 of the 44 passengers (players, supporters and journalists) on board. Terrorist attacks have also not spared the game. The Togo National Football Team were involved in a bus attack by a group of terrorists in 2010, leaving three people dead and many more injured. Former Colombian defender Andres Escobar’s being shot down by unidentified gunmen in 1994 is another horrific instance of the link between football and criminality.
In this thread, members can post any incident, from the past and present, which they think have left their scar on the footballing world. The idea is to pay a tribute to these players and supporters who have endangered/lost their lives in their passion for the beautiful game. They are also requested to note any positive effect these tragedies have had on the game, for example, building better infrastructure in stadia, increasing and modernizing security measures, extensive medical tests and monitoring carried out on players before matches etc.