Terrorist Attacks against Sports Venues: Emerging Trends and Characteristics Spanning 50 Years

Grace R. Rahman, Gregory N. Jasani, Stephen Y. Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sports venues foster community and support local economies. Due to their capacity to host hundreds to thousands of spectators, sports venues are vulnerable to becoming targets of terrorism. Types of venues targeted, regional trends, and methods of attack employed world-wide have not been well-described. Methods: A search of the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) was conducted from 1970 through the end of 2019. Pre-coded variables for target type business and target subtype entertainment/cultural/stadium/casino were used to identify attacks involving venues where sports events might be viewed by spectators as part of an audience. Sports venues were specifically identified using the search terms sport, stadium, arena, and ring, as well as mention of any specific sport. Two authors then manually reviewed each entry for specific information to confirm appropriateness for inclusion, selecting preferentially for attacks against venues where watching a sports event was the primary focus for the majority of the attendees. Descriptive statistics were performed using R (3.6.1). Results: Seventy-four (74) terrorist attacks targeting sports venues were identified from January 1, 1970 through December 31, 2019. Thirty-three (33) attacks, or 44.6% of attacks, involved soccer stadiums or soccer venues, while 33.8% of attacks (25 attacks) involved unspecified sports venues. A bombing or explosion was the most frequent method of attack employed, comprising 87.8% of attacks. The highest number of attacks occurred in the Middle East & North Africa. In total, 213 persons died and 699 more were wounded in attacks against sports venues. Conclusion: Although terrorist attacks against sports venues are uncommon, they carry the risk of mass casualties, especially when explosives are used. A greater understanding of the threat posed by terrorist attacks against sports venues can aid emergency preparedness planning and future medical responses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 20 2023


  • disaster medicine
  • emergency preparedness
  • soccer
  • stadium
  • terrorism


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