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July 2021

A disaster? Which disaster do you mean?

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By Walter Broeckx

Last night after the game I put myself in front of my computer. Ready to give my view on the game. The TV was on our local channel. The news was starting but I wasn’t really paying attention to be honest.

I usually start with writing a few things down about what I really want to include in my views.

So I had the fact that we missed too many chances and wanted to dig a bit in to the reasons why I think we miss those chances.

I had the fact that we were unlucky because hitting the woodwork twice in one game with the keeper well beaten is bad luck.

I had the fact that our first half was outstanding and that we should have been home and dry by then.

I had the fact that we kept a clean sheet and that this is something good to build on.


But I also wanted to say that this draw was not yet a disaster but close to getting one.

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So I wanted to work a bit with those points and elaborate about them. But then the news man got my attention.


They showed images of a football match in Egypt between Al-Masri and Al-Ahly. They showed terrible images of hooligans attacking other supporters. They showed images of hooligans attacking football players of the visiting team. I suddenly was thrown back some 25 years in time. The Heysel tragedy in Brussels. Images of a day that started so nice with warm sunshine and ended with the dead of 39 people in the stadium. Terrible images of people being crushed to death.

And now some 25 years later an even bigger disaster in Port Said. The latest reports tell us that 74 people are dead. Hundreds are wounded. The army had to evacuate the players and supporters of the visiting team. And I wondered: is this football? Is this the sport I love?

The “disaster of Arsenal not winning their game” was washed away in an instance.

Just imagine. 74 people never going home again. I don’t know how many man, woman of children will be in those 74. 74 people who said ‘see you later’ but for whom there will be no later. There will be no later for their wives, children, parents, brothers, sisters. Just the memory of a person going to see a game of football.

Why? I ask myself. Why? Yes I have chosen my colours. I have chosen the red and white of my beloved Arsenal. Just as others have done. Just as others have chosen their colours at some point in their live. And we can have a laugh about others people choice. We can even find it stupid. We can find it ridiculous. But does it make them less human beings for having made their (different) choice?

In the stadium we can shout at each other. We can do some (childish in fact) name calling. It is part of the atmosphere of a football game. We can have our arguments in the pubs, we can discuss our teams and agree to disagree. We can have some banter. We can have some arguments on the internet as a new form of modern teasing.

But what I really do fail to see is the need to punch another fan on the nose. Or a player of the opposing team. And yet this is what they were after last nigh in Egypt.

If you see the images of those hooligans I really wonder if we still can call them human beings. We as human beings pretend to be better than animals. But I wonder if animals could have a look at that and I think they will ask amongst each other: “why are they killing each other if they don’t do it to eat them?” Because if an animal kills another animal it us usually to eat it and to stay alive itself.

But us human beings, the top of the pyramid of civilisation as we like to think of ourselves, we have species that just go out to kill other people just because they have chosen to support another football team. How low can you fall.


Maybe they didn’t mean it? Oh, what is the difference. There is no justification for attacking other supporters or players of the other team. I really hope that the Egyptian authorities can identify those murderers. And that they can put them behind bars for a very very long time. And I hope their conscience (if they have one) will give them a guilt feeling for the rest of their live.


And I hope that those wounded will recover well and will not face a life full of misery because of this barbaric attack.

And I hope that the souls of the dead people will find a resting place.

And I hope that the people who have lost somebody they loved will find the strength to get over it. Just imagine how dreadful it must be to see your man, father, brother, sister, sun or daughter go out the door to see a game of football and  never see them again.


So forgive me but after seeing all this I really didn’t feel in the mood to talk about the events that happened in Bolton last night. You can still comment about the game if you like but the events in Egypt have hurt me as a football lover too much.


Why is it that our great and beautiful game is brought down by such criminals? Why don’t I hear of such things in relation with other sports? Why is it that the morons and criminals have chosen football as the sport they want to destroy? Why do we only see such violence around football pitches and in football stadiums?

Just as some 25 years ago after the Heysel drama I had my doubts about football and their supporters. But just as 25 years ago I will probably come to the conclusion that the vast majority of football supporters are decent human beings. And that they are shocked as much as I am. I hope this to be the case in fact.


Destroying lives for a game of football….how stupid can one be….live is to valuable to have it destroyed like that.


So we didn’t win yesterday. Some people could call it a disaster. I also almost did right after the game.  But just imagine if you father, mother, brother, sister, sun or daughter was in the stadium at Port Said and got killed or injured. Now that is a disaster.


I know it is hard to achieve on the internet but I do hope that after reading this you will hold a moment of silence to remember all those people whose live has been destroyed yesterday. And then we should say to ourselves: enough is enough. Give those morons no more opportunity. Not in Egypt, not in England, nowhere in the world. Let this be the last of such incidents if possible.

10 comments to A disaster? Which disaster do you mean?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks Walter for this article – I’ve never understood the need for any supporter to resort to violence for whatever injustices they may perceive had been done to their team.
    Any loss of life is a tragedy in any circumstance but for sports ? Hope those responsible will be given the harshest sentence possible.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    ‘Why? I ask myself. Why? Yes I have chosen my colours. I have chosen the red and white of my beloved Arsenal. Just as others have done. Just as others have chosen their colours at some point in their live. And we can have a laugh about others people choice. We can even find it stupid. We can find it ridiculous. But does it make them less human beings for having made their (different) choice?’

    The whole point about football is that you need 16, 18, 20 teams to make a league. 20 sets of supporters to make a professional one.

    It means that, unless you are bigoted, racist or plain stupid, you respect other people’s choice. Because without their choice being different, you have no team to support because they have no opponents to play.

    The causes of violence are many and often irrational. In Paris 1975, drunken-ness and a dodgy ref triggered a stadium destruction by Leeds Utd fans. I saw it and didn’t go near a ground again for 25 years. This one probably wasn’t caused by alcohol, but it was triggered by hatred.

    Football sometimes sits on these tribal dividing lines. Jock Stein used to say that the only reason SW Scotland wasn’t like Northern Ireland was 2 Old Firm matches a year. The distrust of the unknown in those communities was such that I, with a rucsac full of climbing gear and looking for a phone box to phone my mate to pick me up after a 300 mile hitch hike from England, was frog marched back to the community boundary by boys on bicycles, no doubt reporting to ‘the Big Man’ about this intruder. Hardly rational, is it? But it happened in 1994…..before the days of mobile phones!

    There is a very fine balance between creating an intimidating atmosphere and causing a bloody punch up. Britain is a country with a long history of gangland warfare, punch ups and the like and football has been on the edges of that.

    I wouldn’t want to judge what happened in Egypt, but I would just say this: if you repress a people through authoritarian dictatorship for a generation or more, when you release the valve, you may see those repressed urges coming out in ugly ways…….

  • Dan T

    Thanks, I’m sure that wasn’t an easy article to write. It really puts a bad result(or 4) into context when a tradgedy like this occurs.

  • Arvind

    Football, probably like all other sports and forms of entertainment is superficial. So yes, it isn’t a disaster. Nowhere near. Even if AFC gets relegated. And that was a really nice comment Rhys; I quite enjoyed reading it.

    Really..what was seen in the stadium in Egypt is just a harsher..much sicker version of what happens on the Internet. Here we can get away with calling Denilson and Squillaci and Almunia fools and morons and be none the worse for it. Repeating a similar thing in a stadium full of “over passionate” half drunk people, whose team has lost can be fatal.

    As my Dad said can never ever reason with a mob.

  • “Football, probably like all other sports and forms of entertainment is superficial. So yes, it isn’t a disaster. Nowhere near. Even if AFC gets relegated. And that was a really nice comment Rhys.”
    Seconded. It hurts when we lose but at the end of the day, usually no-one dies or is seriously injured and life moves on.

  • DC

    Terrible events! Football certainly isn’t a matter of life or death but unfortunately some take it too far and use it as that!

  • alex

    Fantastic article !T football ake my bow.
    Superficially the news is about football but in those parts of the world politics and the tribal things are intertwined in the name of football.

  • Gord

    Actually, we aren’t even allowed to call players on the team we support derogatory names. If everyday you get up, and all day long people are verbally abusing you, the chances are really good that you will start to believe all this talk. And what has happened, is that the fans have taken all the value the manager seen in the player, and turned it into garbage. And the fans will demand spending good money on another player, for them to turn that player into garbage. Wasn’t there a bit of philosophy, that if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all?

    I just wish the AAA would go find some other team to support.

    As far as Egypt goes, I hope the police catch the murders and the organizers (if any). Hopefully this kind of senseless violence won’t happen any more. Terrible news to see about football.

  • FinnGooner

    That Egypt news were awful. I read somewhere that some of the fans had taken advance from weak security and took knives with them in my eyes that means they had planned to do it before the match and making them literally murderers.
    Also I think the parlament (or some goverment) fired their FA because of it (I think it was in twitter, with though if FIFA will react for breaking their rule even when it’s for best of sport).

    Gord: I agree with you 200%. I really hate it when some fans constantly slaggs off our own player (some criticism is OK but you should not over do it and looking positives would not hurt).

  • Anne

    This brought tears to my eyes to read this Walter… You do have a gift for providing perspective and conveying honesty… I notice it, and it means something to me.