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Jan 14, 2010

Outrage over stab vest sales

Stab vests in England colours are being sold to 2010 football World Cup-bound fans, provoking outrage among supporter groups.

According to reports, the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) has condemned a company that is offering protective clothing named "Protektorvest", and creating a climate of fear and danger around the tournament to be held in South Africa.

"Wearing a stab vest with an England flag on would be like going around with a target on your chest. It does not fit in with the ethos of going over there for a carnival of football and enjoying it. You do not want to go worrying about being stabbed and buying equipment to protect yourself," Michael Brunskill, of the FSF, told the Daily Mirror. "We do have some security concerns, but this would be drawing unnecessary attention to yourself."

Spokesman Malcolm Clarke said it worked closely with the authorities and the Football Association to give fans security advice.

"Part of that advice will not include buying a stab vest," he said. ''This will just panic people and introduce a degree of tension. They are not exactly going to endear fans to the host nation and we would advise them not to buy these things."

The stab vests, which were launched in England last week, shield "the vital inner body parts from stabs, cuts, slashes and blows from sharp, edged or spiked weapons", and is being marketed to football fans around the world.

Meanwhile, the company claims that crime rate is high in South Africa, and the Protektorvest will offer effective protection from potential attacks.

"We are getting lots of interest in this from around the world. It is quite amazing. Of course people think it is a bit crazy, but South Africa is famous for knife crime'', said Sascha Cutura, co-founder of Protektorvest. ''I can imagine that the organisers of the World Cup say it is safe, but fans want to do what they can.

''Football fans can get into trouble. They can be drunk and rowdy unlike in other sports, so they can have problems. If they approach situations with the wrong attitude it could go horribly wrong.

"We are seeing a high demand in personal protective clothing and there is no doubt that the risk is increasing at big events like the World Cup 2010, or during concerts especially when you are travelling in areas where you are unsure of your personal safety. If you have vests in team colours it makes them not so recognisable as stab vests. Some people think it might be dangerous out there and want to take a precaution."

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