Last Saturday Zenit St Petersburg’s away game against Dynamo Moscow was abandoned due to an act of hooliganism that was both shocking and rare. The Dynamo goalkeeper Anton Shunin was hit by a banger, which exploded damaging his cornea. This then resulted in the match being abandoned.
The story of what happened instantly made headlines around Europe. People were shocked at how a player who was doing his job became the victim of an unprovoked attack from hooligans. Writers and commentators started calling for all kinds of action against those who committed the offence as well as Zenit due to the perpetrator being a “fan” of their club.
Dynamo’s security authorities and the police immediately investigated the incident with the aim of finding the attacker and bringing them to justice. What was discovered was truly shocking….
The investigators entered the women’s toilets as part of their work. There they found lots of used condoms on the floor which had clearly been used to transport explosives into the stadium. It appears as though female hooligans put the explosives inside the condoms and then inside themselves in order to avoid detection during searches by security personnel when entering the stadium. They then went to the toilets and “emptied” the condoms so they were armed with their bangers ready for the game to start. The game was then abandoned in the 36th minute.
Now that it’s become clear that the aggressors were women rather than big, shaven-headed males we have two major questions that need to be answered:
- How could security have possibly searched these women and stopped them from bringing these banned items into the stadium?
- Who is to blame for this situation? Is it the fault of Zenit who these women apparently support or is it the fault of Dynamo whose security staff were responsible for the event?
I think the incidents that this most closely resembles are the racism issues during the Euros. Do you fine the national FAs or is it the fault of UEFA and the host as they are responsible for security? Zenit are like a national FA in this case. The fans who attended the game are representatives of their organisation and mis-behaved. On the other hand Dynamo sold the tickets for the away end and their security staff were responsible for policing this sector. Therefore it could be argued that just like national FAs during the Euros; Zenit had no ability or power to affect this situation.
Sadly just like the problems there is no simple solution to this problem…. Everyone wants to talk about how terrible what happened is. They all want action taken. Most seem to blame Zenit, especially those from the British media. Nobody however is proposing any real solution to the problems…..
So how do you find explosives that are hidden in women’s most intimate orifices in a humane manner?
There were reports that apparently female Spartak Moscow fans were forced to perform sit-ups in the most undignified manner by security staff in the Caucuses as a way of checking for contraband being smuggled in this way. This however cannot be a long-term solution to the problem. You cannot humiliate every female fan on the basis of a few hooligans causing problems. This type of security procedure would most likely alienate females from attending games and damage the reputation of the sport as well as the clubs involved.
What other potential immediate solutions are there?
Realistically there aren’t any. Strip-searching would be totally impractical and most-likely illegal without probable cause. It would also be logistically impossible to be done in privacy. There really is no other way….
So if there is no way of preventing women from bringing illegal objects to football matches inside their bodies then whose fault is it that this attack occurred?
This again is a nearly impossible question to answer….
Lots of Western football writers and media types seem to blame Zenit for this incident. Zenit for whatever reason seem to receive a lot of negative press for their fans even in articles that don’t relate to off-field issues. In this instance there is NOTHING that Zenit could have done to prevent this from happening.
- Zenit did not sell tickets for the away end to their fans. Dynamo sold the tickets on the day of the game. Because of this Zenit had no way of preventing anyone from entering the stadium.
- Zenit did not carry out the security checks at the stadium. The security staff were employed by Dynamo and therefore Zenit had no power over the way they worked of their policing techniques.
On the other hand it is also difficult to blame Dynamo for the incident:
- It is illegal to search inside women’s vaginas when they enter a football stadium. Doing so would be a gross violation of their rights.
- It would be nearly impossible for stewards to spot the woman who threw the banger at the time that she did it. The item was too small and the crowd was too large for stewards to have done anything to stop her.
When this type of incident occurs we naturally seek someone to blame. Authorities need to prosecute or punish a club or an association in order to convince people that they are doing something to fight the problem. They are also under a great deal of pressure from foreign media, politicians and other authorities to act strongly and to discourage anything similar from happening again.
In reality people who commit extreme attacks on players can only be dealt with in the same way those guilty of racial abuse within the stadium. When they commit their offences, they should be spotted and removed. When the person who has committed the attack has been identified they should then be jailed. They however just like a racist are not easy to search and stop before the incident occurs. We as idealists would all like to see football stadiums as safe places where nothing like this ever happens. This however is not as simple to put into practice as we would like. All we can do is ban those who are guilty of committing the acts, wait for the courts to process (and probably jail) them. We can then hope that through education others learn that this is a bad idea and it deters others from doing the same.
The hooligan and Ultras communities have condemned what happened last weekend as strongly as the mainstream press. Under the hooligan code of honour most people appreciate that attacking players is unacceptable and a cowardly act. Ultras groups believe that pyrotechnics in the stadium help improve the match day atmosphere. They are however barely ever used as a weapon to attack players. Fans of clubs need to work together to make sure that these type of incidents do not occur again as they are the ones with the real power to police themselves. The honour and reputations of their groups are at stake and incidents like this damage both of these. That should be their motivation to police themselves and stop this from happening again.
*I want to emphasise that the incident that took place on Saturday was a one-off. Zenit fans have not committed anything similar. This is why it would be treated as an isolated incident involving a cowardly idiot rather than a problem within their club’s fan base. Their many good fans should not suffer because of one person’s actions.