Less than a week out from the start of the World Cup, and the tournament is filthy with injuries, terror threats and now fans stampeding outside today's Nigeria-North Korea friendly.
This begs the question, a query that's been haunting this tournament since South Africa was selected years ago: Are the players and fans safe?
Suddenly, South Africa's rampant crime rates seem tame to the political turmoil and apparently lackadaisical attitude toward security. Today's tragedy that left 14 injured--a number that's surely to rise--is being blamed on the fact that the match was a friendly. Therefore, World Cup security was not on the job. Apparently the rules say it was Nigeria's match, they provide security. The Nigerians' crack private security team was, apparently, on crack today.
Fans rushed the gates twice trying to get into the grounds and people were run over like traffic cones during a teen's driver's license exam. Pitiful. Frightening.
What are we in for in the next month?
How does FIFA allow this? Again, a very legitimate question. How can FIFA just wash its hands of a friendly less than a week from the start of the event. What? "World Cup security" whatever that is, is too expensive for a friendly? Crowd control isn't important before the tournament? Ridiculous. FIFA proves again that it does not value the safety of its players, its product. The players and the game, and of course, the fans, are the core of the game. To allow private security to be in charge today is irresponsible and negligent. I dare say if Brazil was in a friendly against, oh, anyone, there would have been World Cup security on the grounds.
This is disgusting, and harkens back to the terrorism attack on Togo's players during the African Cup of Nations. Why would FIFA allow a national team to travel through war-torn roads by bus? Probably the same reason it would allow private security to be in charge less than a week out from the World Cup.
Say a prayer for this tournament; I hope this is the last such post I have to write in the next five weeks. We all do.