June 13, 2021

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POLITICS AND PROTEST IN FOOTBALL – THE DEAFENING SILENCE OF FIFA AND ENGLISH FA

The football governing body FIFA since inception is driven with the slogan “For the game. For the world” and has over the years been strongly opposed to players, teams and fans engaging in sloganeering and protests on the pitch, meting out punishments ranging from heavy fines and outright bans on club sides and national teams for breach of this all-important rule firmly in place to protect the game.
However, with the silence of FIFA and English FA over worrying displays on the field of play by some premier league players, football enthusiasts across the globe are deeply worried and are calling on FIFA and English FA to rise to the occasion and act to protect the round leather game. We have therefore joined that clarion call.
Specifically, on Tuesday 18th of May, following Man U’s Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo holding up of Palestine flag after the team’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Fulham, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had this to say “…views of players have to be respected..” In the same vein, Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana also held up a Palestine flag after the team’s FA Cup final on Saturday the 15th of May. Solskjaer in his response to the issue said “….I think we need to respect their views if they differ from someone else’s,”. These remarks are wrong!
Definitely, players like everyone are entitled to their opinions and views but not on the field of play. They must not use their platform to project, one political or religious ideology over another, and demean one to attract sympathy for another. Worse still, projecting one country or state over another must not have a place in football. In many corporations and organizations across the globe and to protect the diversity of views and ensure healthy staff relations and make everyone comfortable, politics and religion are clearly divorced from a business. For these players, the field of play is their place of business and work and must be kept neutral for all other players and fans alike. We do not need this acrimony in football and all sports.
Further to this, politics and protest in football and sports, in general, is reprehensible and should be deplored by every rational mind as it among other things creates disunity, dampens team spirit where you have people of diverse inclinations in a team, and instigates violence and unnecessary divide among peoples of various political and religious affiliations and ethno-racial origins.
Traditionally, football and other sporting competitions are meant to unify, entertain and not create psychological and emotional antagonism of teams, fans or audience with differing socio-political and religious views on burning issues. Politics and protests must therefore remain banned in football as it is clearly antithetical to its main purpose. This is why the English FA must look into this disturbing trend and act fast. Especially as it concerns the front-burner issue of Israel and Palestine, it could also be a stark reminder of the ugly deadly incident at the Munich Olympics in 1972 in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestine terrorists of Black September extraction and their collaborators.
The Israel-Palestine issue is a very sensitive and delicate one and things could easily spiral out of control if not properly nipped in the bud now. The English FA and FIFA must not overlook these incidents

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