Muted and booted

9 01 2009

Last week a footballer dared to express an opinion. He is Frederic Kanoute, he plays for Sevilla and here is his statement;

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For this small gesture of solidarity he is going to be fined, fined for expressing sympathy towards the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. We’ve been here before of course. It’s 1997 and Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler reveals another T-Shirt;

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Robbie was fined too, fined for expressing support for sacked dockers. Somebody is trying to tell us something.

It’s alright when your footballers are running around in clothing made by companies that have a history of shady labour practices. It’s alright when your footballers are kicking a ball around that may or may not have been made by children. This is just accepting that’s the way the world is, it’s not a political statement or anything.  Then some dangerous heretics go and stick their heads above the parapet of their luxuriously velvet-lined trenches to make an overtly”political” statement and get carpeted.

If you delve a bit deeper you start to find a pattern. Any form of protest against oppression/fascism/racism is marginalised because it is controversial and sport should be separated from politics. Supposedly sport  should remain pure and unsullied. Sports fans are extremely fortunate that we have a shield of governing bodies that uphold Conrinthian sporting values. We’re lucky that the governing bodies guard against the impure  use of sport in a truly altruistic manner, they would never use sport for anything as base as making money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. Making money is not political, it’s just the way things are.

Some unpolitical examples.

1973 – The USSR are drawn to play Chile in a World Cup Qualifying match. The match was scheduled to take place in a stadium that had been used as a concentration camp after a U.S. backed fascist coup, ooooops I mean neccessary military action, a few months earlier. The USSR objected and refused to play for some bleeding-heart reason. FIFA did not accept the Soviet protests and expelled them. The match had to be played and took place in a ridiculous fashion.

1960 – Cassius Clay won an Olympic gold medal. 1966 –  Muhammed Ali refused the draft in the U.S. Army. 1967 – Ali had his boxing license rescinded

1968 – Tommie Smith and John Carlos stage their famous protest against the lack of full civil rights for black people in America on the podium in Mexico City. This supported by Australian silver medalist Peter Norman.

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The American medallists were striped of their medal and expelled from the team, Norman was ostracised in Australia for his support.

Now this is all very well and good. Sport should remain pure. You should not allow politics to intervene and use sport to make a point. Sport should be tolerant, sport should respect local customs;

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Funnily enough the man responsible (Avery Brundage) for expelling Tommie Smith and John Carlos was also chiefly responsible for the 1936 Olympics taking place in Berlin. Of course, the Nazis didn’t use the games politically. The IOC have learnt from their mistakes because they haven’t awarded the Olympic Games to a country that doesn’t respect human rights since then.

FIFA, expeller of the USSR in 1973, are another upstanding pillar of the world community. They are of course non-political and chose to hold the 1978 World Cup in a Military Dictatorship for non-political reasons. Luckily they can never be accused of being corrupt. Anyway corruption is not political.

Luckily we can see sport is in safe hands and it’ll never be used for anything shady. Sport is apolitical and forever should it remain so. Any use of it for political reasons is not to be tolerated, until the day that this protesting can be used to make money. Then we can all dress in revolutionary chic.

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Like the Comedian said; “I like my Rock Stars Dead and my Footballers Mute”

 

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