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Soccer games terror targets?


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Soccer games terror targets?

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — International soccer games could become terrorist targets and security should no longer be taken for granted at sporting venues in Asia, a top soccer official warned Monday.

Peter Velappan, general-secretary of the Asian Football Confederation, told a security seminar that event organizers in Asia have often assumed venues would be safe from attack because many countries in the region are peaceful.

But terrorist activity and other violence in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Uzbekistan — all of which field teams in Asian competitions — show that "there are potential volcanoes, even in Asia," Velappan said.

"We no longer have a world where security and safety can be taken for granted," Velappan said.

"Football is the most attractive event to really disrupt, since you can destabilize the entire football world.``No other sport brings together so many people in one venue. If someone chooses to go and plant some bombs in different parts of a stadium, you lose everything."

Security concerns have already disrupted the Asian Champions League. AFC officials postponed two matches due to be played this week in Uzbekistan after four days of violence between authorities and alleged terrorists that killed at least 47 people.

Speaking to soccer organizers from nearly 30 Asian and Middle East countries, Velappan said security was mainly the responsibility of governments but that national soccer associations should co-operate with police and state officials to upgrade venue safety.

He said organizers should not book venues that fail to meet security requirements such as not having sufficient entrances or exits.

Velappan noted that numerous international soccer events were scheduled to be played in Asia this year, including the July-August Asian Cup in China, the AFC's Champions League games and qualifying matches for the Athens Olympics and the 2006 World Cup.

Velappan said many Asian countries had demonstrated a high level of security awareness, noting that "not one single security incident (occurred) in the World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea" in 2002.

However, he urged organizers not to become complacent.

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I can understand the need to always be cautious, but simply put: soccer games are NOT terror targets! What do you think these terrorists do in their spare time, play/watch lawn bowling??

Anybody who writes an article like this has simply ran out of things to write about!

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