Friday, March 25, 2016
Latest ISIS Attacks Hit #1 Ranked Soccer Country in the World
An overlooked irony to these latest cowardly acts of violence is the fact that Belgium is presently considered the best country in the world playing soccer, according to FIFA rankings.
I use the word 'irony' because Belgium has the world's attention for the moment. Discounting the last year and a half, people familiar with how Europe has functioned over the last sixty plus years, since World War II, know that Belgium has always been considered a very small, but safe country to travel through. And, Belgium has never really been considered on the world's stage for athletic prowess. There have been two outstanding Grand Slam lady tennis champions, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. But on the Olympic stage, Belgium has been relatively quiet.
And, yet, there is Belgium atop the rankings board for the world's best known and most competitive sport.
There are already rumblings of soccer players wanting to leave Belgium for safety reasons. Surely, there will be more security challenges ahead to persuade players to not leave the country. Whether it is club or national team players, all of them have a target on their backs from ISIS in addition to the general fear of terrorism in the country.
Much beyond the number one ranking, soccer definitely has a big role now for Belgium. And, things could go either way. If safety and security is not maintained, than soccer could be part of the exodus from Belgium. After these attacks, just qualifying for World Cup 2018 is in jeopardy and who knows what could happen in Belgium's club league.
A more hopeful scenario is that soccer becomes a rallying point for the country. Soccer can be used as a force to bring citizens together and show the world that Belgium is not afraid and will do whatever is necessary to maintain its voice for freedom.
The people of Belgium must unite for each other with the support of its allies in the world and conquer the horror and panic of terrorism. Soccer can be part of that unifying spirit, but that spirit can't reach its maximum until the country is presumed to be much safer.