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27/10/2013 NFL WEMBLEY STADIUM LONDON JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS V SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS PRE GAME WITH NE-YO DAVE SHOPLAND

I write this article with pain in my heart at the horrendous acts that have, again, occurred on the streets of England. Over the past months as a country we have experienced three terrible acts of terrorism that have almost brought the country to its knees. An attack aimed at the Houses of Parliament striking at the very heart of our political establishment, only a few days ago a truly awful suicide bomber attack at an Ariana Grande concert where the attendees were mainly children. Whilst the country was still reeling from that awful event London was hit once again, attacked under the thinnest guise of Islam via the terrible ISIS group. This country is facing an unprecedented level of horror.

I’m no expert; I follow the news like many others, and often feel withdrawn from such awful atrocities, unfortunately these current events have been struck closer to home, victims are close to the age of my only child. Especially the events in Manchester struck a deep nerve, these extremists do not discriminate in their hatred for the western world and can now count innocent children as their victims in this unnecessary so called religious war. The excellent Mike Goodpastor contacted me today for my point of view regarding the NFL potentially cancelling the planned fixtures in London that are due to commence later in the year.

Let me first state that if the officials resolve to prohibit the travel of the franchises due to play in London, in part it would be heart-breaking but I could personally fully understand the decision if it is to be made and money should not be a reason to allow the games to continue, the countries government should have the spectator’s safety at the very heart of its decision. Sport should never be included in political or religious Sports participants and supporters must raise their dignified heads above the everyday problems that evil entities endanger us with; sport should be a unifier, a place to gather safely and enjoy the physical endeavours of the sides or players.

I have recently watched the excellent NFL Timeline ‘September 11th’ a heartbreaking episode documenting the aftermath of the 9/11 disaster, the level of shock and anger of those directly affected by those awful events, the discussion/decision of the NFL in the aftermath to a postponement of fixtures and ultimately the purely greatest element of sport, as it unified a nation mourning together its nations greatest disaster.

As I’m writing this I’m watching a soccer match in Manchester, a testimonial fixture celebrating the longevity of a Manchester United player, nearly 70000 spectators are in attendance at Old Trafford, a unification, it is attended by those that suffered at the music concert and also by 300 members of our emergency service heroes that performed so admirably in the aftermath of such a disaster. My country is in turmoil, I feel that it’s slowly losing its identity as a country of social dynamism, a country that embraced multi-ethnicity and all faiths – we are questioning our neighbours and their actions, which is heartbreaking. The man who runs the corner shop had nothing to do with these atrocities and many of those who helped the injured and dying during all three attacks were non-Christian

My twelve-year-old son, so excited that he is counting down to the Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars fixture in September questioned our attendance today, and asked if we were going. I asked him if you felt safe enough to go – we shared a silence and his answer enthused me and reminded me why I loved him so.

‘We cannot let them win, can we?’

I have spoken to several Americans about their trips to the UK – for some it has become a personal pilgrimage, they are returning to ancestral roots. Our two countries have been tied for over a hundred years, our freedom was in danger in the 1940’s and you came to our rescue and we have stood hand in hand, strong and unified for a very long time.

I reiterate that sports should not be used as disposable pawns in political chess games, it’s an opportunity to come together and share a common interest. I hope the NFL do not decide to cancel the fixtures, I hope that all the fans that have planned a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to London are not persuaded to stay at home (of course I can appreciate anybody that wishes to do so) to visit our country, we love your crazy game and I’m so much looking forward to perhaps meeting a couple of you at the game.

Editor’s Note:

This article has not been edited, it is shared exactly as written in order to maintain the integrity of the author’s perspective.