During India’s tour to Pakistan in 1989, an enraged fan attacked the then Indian captain, Kris Srikkanth and tore off his shirt. Questions were then raised about the security measures taken by Pakistani administration. People were also concerned about Indian players’ security in Pakistan.
That tour also saw teenage prodigy Sachin Tendulkar announcing his arrival on the world stage. Twenty three years later, Tendulkar is now an iconic cricketer who has been the target of international terror groups. He is thus provided with Z-plus security by the Indian government.
But do sportsperson really need security or is it just a status symbol? The answer is a big yes. Apart from pesky fans, celebrity sportspersons also face potential threats to their lives. One of the most infamous examples is that of former World No 1 Monica Seles, who was forced out of the sport for more than two years following an on-court attack in 1993 when a man stabbed her in the back with a nine-inch knife. Seles survived the attack and returned to international Tennis later.
Earlier this year, international footballer Jeffrey Ntuka, who played for English football club Chelsea, was stabbed to death following a brawl in a nightclub in a Free State province of South Africa.
Cricket could have had its own of share of the tragic deaths in 2009 as a plan to attack Sri Lankan cricketers touring Pakistan failed. Six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed and five of the visiting players were wounded. Fortunately all the cricketers survived the vicious attack. The attack had led to foreign teams totally boycotting tours to Pakistan because of security reasons and concerns.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has always taken precautions while authorising international tours, and should continue the same way as the players’ security is of paramount importance.