Rising Fears over Soaring Football Violence

Once again, Tunisia finds itself confronted with the soaring phenomenon of football violence and disorder. Unfortunately, This embarrassing phenomenon has become a depressingly common feature of the game and violence on football pitches and among rival fans and supporters is clearly on the rise. It is terrifying to witness the phenomenon escalate dramatically while the authorities seem incapable of eradicating or even curbing the level of violence. The reputation and standing of the sport among the general public could be irreparably tarnished.

Very shocking is the incitement to violence that is fueled by the leading football teams, exposing an ugly side to the beautiful game. Rivalry among teams and fans is further ignited by the kind of hate discourse and provocative language inciting further violence among fans and often targeting the security forces.

In fact, what happened in Sousse on Sunday, March 11, is yet another evidence of the kind of violence that plagues the sport. Club officials appearing in the local media engaged in despicable provocative behavior and disgraceful verbal abuse intended to infuriate the public rather than to appease an already dire situation.

In light of the reckless declarations and violent, aggressive comments made by club officials, who have lost all sense of sport ethics, we expect the upsurges of violence to continue. As professionals and role models, those who manage, play and coach the game have the moral duty to ensure that their behavior on and off the pitch sets a high standard. However, they have come out to stir trouble, hatred and unrest instead of protectingthe game, the players and fans. They tend to reinforce an aggressive and confrontational perception of the sport which, by no means, should bepart of this beautiful game.

Football is Tunisia’s national game and almost everyone is passionate about the sport. The public will absolutely not tolerate violence of any nature to take this popular sport hostage.  Exploring ways to protect the reputation of the game should come to the fore of the debate about the ongoing violence. Club officials and leaders should act responsibly and commit to work together with all stakeholders to ensure that we can address the issue of violence and make stadiums safe again.

The Tunisian Football Federation must invest vigorous efforts to reduce the scale of violence and take the necessary legal steps to prevent disorderly and offensive behavior at football matches.Those engaging in it should face the full force of the law.

As our society is transitioning into a modern democracy, football can provide a useful way of creating an environment in which people positively come together to strengthen their national pride and form a cohesive national identity.

TunisianMonitorOnline (Ben Rhouma Chedly)

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