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Friday, January 27, 2023

Awakening on sports fields

By: Dr Matevž Tomšič

In recent years, the so-called ideology of awakening (woke) has been spreading practically into all spheres of social life. It has also penetrated sports arenas, that is to say where politics and ideology once had no entry.

Sometimes an athlete who promoted certain political ideas there was immediately removed from the competition. This happened, for example, to two American black athletes who, at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, wrapped their clenched fists in a black scarf during the medal ceremony (in protest against racial inequality in their country).

Now, demonstrating politically or ideologically motivated gestures has become commonplace. It started last year with the mass kneeling of football players in stadiums in England. It is a symbolic gesture in memory of the black delinquent George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis as a result of police violence. This gesture became a trademark of American “awakeners” (such as those who gather in the radical left-wing Black Lives Matter movement), which soon spread to Europe as well. Before football matches played in England, it has become a ritual, so to speak, which is supposed to be practiced by visiting teams as well. The first to resist this were the Central Europeans (Poles, Czechs, Hungarians), who boycotted such practices; later, others joined them, so that now at the World Cup in Qatar, no one but the English did it.

But there is no shortage of temptations to spread ideologically motivated messages even in this competition in the country on the Arabian Peninsula. This time, the “relay” was taken over by the German football representatives. Thus, their captain wanted to wear a rainbow captain’s armband during the matches – as an expression of solidarity with homosexuals who are subject to repression in Qatar. When the organisers prevented him from doing so, the entire eleven took a photo with their hands over their mouths – saying they wanted to silence them.

However, there is a considerable amount of deception involved in this justice. It is true that Qatar is ruled by an autocratic regime based on strict Islamic principles, where women are in a distinctly subordinate position, where homosexual relations are prohibited, where migrant workers have virtually no rights. In short, it is a country where there is no sign of democracy, human rights, and freedoms. However, all this was already known when the World Football Association awarded it the organisation of the World Cup. If domestic conditions were problematic, then they should have simply chosen another host country. And if it turned out that there were violations of the rules (or even corrupt acts) during the selection process, the decision should have been annulled and the selection repeated.

But that did not happen. Therefore, it is now necessary to ensure that the championship takes place as well as possible. Various ideologically motivated provocations certainly do not help this. If you visit someone, you do not challenge or insult them, do you? That is just plain rude. But if the host is not to your liking, you just do not visit them. If one of the countries decided that the organisation of the championship in Qatar is something that is against its principles, then its national team should simply boycott the competition.

For Germany, the current championship ended disastrously, as the national team, which always aims for the highest places, was eliminated after the preliminaries, which is far from what it is capable of in terms of the quality of the playing staff. But only a few pointed out that one of the reasons for the premature farewell of the Germans could be their activism. Apparently, they focused more on spreading political messages than on the game. And this could not give positive results.

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