Hostility Explained Through Sport
The Euro 2020 is just over, with Italy beating England 3-2 (in tie-breaker after a 1-1 deadlock in the stipulated 120 minutes) in the final to become the best football-playing nation in Europe on July 11 (2021). This stupendous sporting event was being held at a time when the COVID-19 Pandemic ruthlessly went on paralyzing life across the globe. Still, this event was a dream come true for many players, and also a source of excitement for football-lovers. Inevitably, the Global Politics had an impact on the Euro 2020 championship!
It was clearly noticed that Crimea was shown as a part of Ukraine in the map drawn on the jersey of the Ukrainian football team. Interestingly, the Crimean Peninsula, north of the Black Sea in Eastern Europe, was annexed by the Russian Federation between February and March 2014, and since then has been administered as two Russian Federal subjects: the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol. As expected, Moscow has ridiculed the Ukrainian jersey as a Nazi-like salute to the glory of nationalists. There was also an issue about a slogan in jerseys, as well!
Meanwhile, some volunteers chose a match played in Munich as a platform to stage protests against a big multinational car-manufacturing company. According to a senior UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) official, disruption in German Football Association’s plan to organise the match caused the trouble. The Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan witnessed another crisis. Reports suggest that two persons, carrying rainbow flags, were thrown out of the stadium. The UEFA followed the FIFA rules in each case, but failed to separate Politics from Football. Perhaps, it is an impossible task!
Once, South Africa was denied to take part in sporting events because of racist practices (Apartheid) in the country. The move played a significant role in changing the Social Structure of South Africa. The Trinidadian historian and journalist, Cyril Lionel Robert James (popular in his pen-name J R Johnson (January 4, 1901 – May 31, 1989)), had identified the 18th Century Haiti Uprising and Sir Garfield Sobers’ cricket career as Revolutionary Events. Former South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini once revealed his pain of loneliness while playing with White teammates. Similarly, former French striker Thierry Daniel Henry shared his experience of not becoming the coach of the National Squad, despite possessing the requisite qualities. Currently, he is the Assistant Coach of the Belgian national side.
It is quite natural that Sports would have an impact on Politics… because it is linked with acquaintances of many… while it is self-esteem for some players, existence for others. In other words, while Sports Diplomacy may transcend cultural differences and bring people together, the interpretation of sports and politics has had both positive and negative implications over history. Sports competitions or activities have had the intention to bring about change in certain cases. Nationalistic fervour is, sometimes, linked to victories or losses to some sports on fields. Often, sporting events reflect the duality within the Nation-States, or become a mirror of the internal tension. Hence, the Euro 2020 match between France and Germany may be perceived not only as a 90-minute action on the field, but also a determinant of the Balance of Power between the two superpowers in post-Brexit Europe.
The contexts of Economy and Entertainment Business are also important, as those have become an important part of Sports. In 1956, the Journal of Political Economy had published an article on Sports Economics by Economist Simon Rottenberg. In that article, Rottenberg identified various economic and social yardsticks on the basis of the number of spectators of baseball matches. It is the Ultimate Truth in the World of Free Trade! A huge sporting event often becomes a big hope for the National Economy of a country. From the price of a footballer to the decoration of a gallery, everything largely depends on commerce.
The driving force behind the plan to start an elite European Super League football competition, which recently rocked the entire Football World, has mainly been about the commercial gains and losses. Time and again, the great sporting arenas have proved that sports is an essential part of Politics and Economy. Again, the resonance of the society inspires the World of Sports, thus, becoming an integral part of one another.
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