There is still sometime to go before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia, but the terrorist organisation ISIS, is already creating an unsafe atmosphere for the showpiece tournament.
Hours after The Best FIFA Awards Gala in London, a spine chilling poster which shows Argentina captain Lionel Messi crying blood found its way to the public forum after it was published by a pro-ISIS media group.
The poster, which was released by Wafa Media Foundation, was discovered by the think tank SITE Intelligence Group and shows Messi behind bars, with a message, “You are fighting a state that does not have failure in its dictionary.”
The chilling poster also used Nike’s famous tagline, “Just Do It” and turned it into “Just Terrorism.”
Previously, there have been other instances of various pro-ISIS organisations publishing different posters depicting danger and threatening terrorist activities at the World Cup which is scheduled to kick off in June and will be played across 12 venues in 11 cities. The posters show Russia’s World Cup logo exploding along with menacing phrases, such as, “We are the one who chooses the battlefield,” and, “I swear that the mujahideen’s fire will burn you, just you wait.”
Pro-#ISIS media unit Wafa' Foundation continues to threaten 2018 FIFA #WorldCup, this time using an image of #LionelMessi in a prison outfit pic.twitter.com/isB8RDKYAK— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) October 24, 2017
It is difficult to gauge the seriousness of the threats from the ISIS because, they have earlier threatened to cause problems at football tournaments; namely the 2016 Euros in France and the 2017 Women’s European Championships – both came through unscathed.
However, ISIS’s relation to football is well known. Only recently, in November 2015, ISIS members set off a series of bombs around Paris, one of which exploded outside the Stade de France, while France were playing Germany in a friendly international. That same night ISIS also claimed responsibility for a mass shooting that occurred at a Paris concert venue – killing a total of 130 people were killed in the events.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup has been a topic of discussion amongst many pro-ISIS groups and ISIS sympathisers, while Russia has also seen several acts of terrorism over the past decades, including some for which ISIS has claimed responsibility.
#FIFA18 a recurring topic among #ISIS supporters, w chatter & graphics threatening "enemies of Allah in #Russia"https://t.co/MfmbizGUyg pic.twitter.com/CqoEROGfjB— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) October 24, 2017
Most recently, the terrorist group said it was responsible for a random stabbing attack that injured eight in the Siberian city of Surgut. The assailant was shot and killed by police.
All these incidents and messages only add to the ‘fear factor’ in relation to the upcoming World Cup, a matter that FIFA is surely going to probe.
Ahead of the tournament though, Russia has reassured the public that it is prepared to keep the tournament safe from terrorism.
In January, the head of the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee said preparations were “already underway” to ensure a safe environment.
“We have taken into account the huge experience, accumulated by the National Anti-Terrorism Committee and the security organizations involved in providing security for the Sochi Olympic Games, the Kazan Universiade and other huge events,” Igor Kulyagin told Russian news agency TASS (via Russia Today). “Of course, special attention will be paid to providing anti-terrorism safeguards of the infrastructure that will be used for hosting the competition, such as the teams’ stadiums, accommodation units and training facilities.”
The World Cup which almost did not feature Lionel Messi as Argentina were on the brink of missing out on qualification will kick off June 14 and run through July 15.