Sports Law • Risk Management

March 29, 2011: A Dead Body Should Not Be Brought to a Soccer Game

In Columbia a group of avid soccer fans paid a unique tribute to their friend who was murdered. The fans carried the dead body of a seventeen-year-old, who was resting in his coffin, into a stadium for a professional soccer game. This raises the question: Were the group of friends required to purchase a ticket for the entrance of this unusual guest? Not to make light of the gravity of their friend’s death, but ticket takers for the game had to have noticed a group of fans carrying a large wooden coffin into the stadium. This then raises issues with how a facility operator should handle similar situations at sports venues.

First, nothing good can come from allowing a coffin into a stadium. They are heavy, awkward to carry, and require the assistance of multiple people to transport. Although allowing fans to carry a coffin into a stadium may prevent a riot from angry pallbearers, allowing them entry with the coffin only exposes other patrons to harm. For instance, it would be easy, particularly in a sloped stadium seating arrangement, for the group of friends to bump into or to drop the coffin on another patron, thus causing them injury.

Furthermore, it might be difficult for the pallbearers to hold the coffin throughout the entire soccer match. Another concern is that the coffin may restrict the view of other paying customers. Or if the friends chose to set the coffin down in the aisle or even in the stands, a large wooden box would likely block the path for an emergency exit. Additionally, the loyal friends may not be willing to abandon the body in the event of a true emergency that required a quick escape. In any event, there is no telling what type of weapons or explosives that could be contained within such a large box, which could create any number of catastrophic casualties.

In any event, it is likely you would see someone carrying or unloading a coffin, or another large object from afar and could head them off prior to reaching the main entrance. Should you encounter patrons who wish to bring in large, unusual objects into your stadium, offer the patron a choice to either take the item home or to accept a refund or exchange for their ticket. Ultimately, the fans can find another way to honor their deceased friend.