Recent events in Madrid have brought home the reality of the potential terrorist threatduring the European Championship in Portugal next June. Whether, in the final analysis, Eta or Arab terrorists are responsible for the bomb atrocities in our neighbour’s capital is immaterial. The fact that Spain’s government, alongside Durão Barroso’s ruling party aligned themselves with the American position vis-à-vis Iraq, has made Portugal a target.
Activities such as playing out mocked up emergency situations and sharing thoughts over a glass of port in highly theoretical pan-European seminars have surely been consigned to the past as reality is violently introduced into the scenarios.
Leonel Carvalho, security co-ordinator for Euro 2004, has admitted that a serious re-valuation of existing security measures has become necessary. Particular attention, he added, will not only have to be paid to the Spanish squad in view of the attacks, but bodyguards and security cordons at training camps for all teams will have to be provided.
Travel arrangements on match days are considered a also further situation of maximum risk. UEFA refused to postpone games in the wake of the tragedy, a stance that was viewed as highly insensitive in many quarters. On the other hand, a mark of respect for the dead must not be overshadowed by a subjugation of cowardly acts of organised murder directed against the innocent, reducing a sporting spectacle to that of caged animals performing in a zoo. In a democratic world the majority must never bow to those who choose to forsake their conscience – the game must go on.