English football ‘needs to wake up’ over players’ security: expert
Stroud (United Kingdom) (AFP) – English football clubs will only wake up to the security risks their players face when either one of them or a member of their family are maimed or killed, a security expert told AFP.
The stark warning from former soldier Alex Bomberg comes after Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were targeted in a carjacking attack by knife-wielding men on mopeds in London in July.
The fallout from that incident resulted in the duo being left out of the opening Premier League fixture with Newcastle due to “further security incidents”.
Bomberg, founder and CEO of Intelligent (UK Holdings) Limited, is responsible for the personal protection of nine footballers in Spain and France but says he has had no approaches from England-based players even since the incident involving German star Ozil and Bosnian international Kolasinac.
He said he was surprised that super-rich Premier League players and clubs were underestimating the threat.
“Footballers are more exposed in the United Kingdom, far more exposed,” the former aide to the British royal family told AFP at his office in Gloucestershire in the west of England.
“I think we have a serious problem in the UK and it does surprise me how we look at it.
“This is a really serious subject which needs proper attention and I can tell you what will happen; nothing will change dramatically until a footballer or member of his family either is seriously injured or killed.”
Bomberg, who says he has been contacted by other players in mainland Europe since the Arsenal stars were attacked, believes footballers and their families are especially vulnerable.
“I came across newspaper clippings from 2009 where they were talking about 21 robberies of British players’ homes in a three-year period,” he said.
“That is 2009 so where are we now? We are nearly 2020, we were talking about it 10 years ago and it is still a problem today.
He said elite footballers were particularly vulnerable because their movements are so widely known.
“It’s advertised when footballers are away from home because they are playing football. Straight away that leaves them exposed.”
The Ozil incident received widespread coverage because Kolasinac fought off the assailants, but Bomberg says that was the wrong way to respond.
“He did what many young guys would do but he put himself and his friend (Ozil) in danger,” said Bomberg.
“It could have ended in a very different way, we know how many people get stabbed in London every day.”