Sports

Must we mix sport and politics at the Football World Cup?

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The belief in the power of football to make positive contribution to progressive and sustainable change in the world was met with opposition before the start of the tournament in Doha, Qatar.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino wrote to the chiefs of 32 competing teams, demanding them to focus their time at Qatar to focus only on football. There was nothing wrong with this.

But each of the competing Football Associations felt it was tantamount to giving them a lesson how to play the game. It was considered as fighting talk, an intrusion.

The teams instead opted to send a reminder that neither FIFA nor the hosts, Qatar should declare war on the national teams.

Last month, (November 2022) the findings of a new research study led by Dr. Adam Scharif of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, found that international sporting events tend to trigger unwarranted repression, when host nations that were autocracies, some even dictatorships, used the different games as a way of persecution of their political opponents.

Anti-discrimination rainbow coloured “# One Love” arm-bands worn by thecaptains of teams was banned, with severe penalties – Yellow and Red Cards. England and Welsh Captains at the last minute had to change their bands before their matches on 21 November 2022. This made a large proportion of their fans feel very uncomfortable.

Besides, a former England football manager, Harry Redknapp told a news agency on the controversy surrounding Qatar, hosting the World Cup. We know the host country has strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws. “How they got it in the first place I don’t really know. But they got it, it’s there, we’ve gotto get on with it now”.

David Seaman, former England Goalkeeper also shared his thoughts stating; “Football is for everyone and not everyone can go there to watch the games.”

Both of them were in full praise for England’s squad. “I think we’ve got a fantastic group of players,” said Harry, which was echoed by David.

The bravery of the England’s Three Lions team kicked off their World Cup game with a historic 6-2 win, but it was opponents Iran who won the praise for their courageous protests over human rights violations, by risking their safety at home, by refusing to sing the national anthem, but fans booed them or made thumbs down signs. Female supporters were also seen with placards, “Women, Life, Freedom,” they had smuggled into the Khalifa Stadium in Doha to protest at the crackdown on women refusing to wear the hijab.

FIFA according to some fans have acted to brush criticism of human rights under the carpet.

Can FIFA or anybody stop protests?

The more you stop wearing of rainbow arm bands, and the hijab, or placards, the more it is counterproductive according to someobservers.

Harry Kane, England’s captain had to wear a FIFA-approved “No Discrimination” armband.

But, it did not stop Manager, Gareth Southgate’s men “taking the knee” before kick off in a symbolic gesture against racism.

Wales in their drawn game (1-1) against United States, on 21 November 2022, were also among seven European teams hoping to wear the “OneLove” armband in a country which outlaws same sex relationships. Through their Federations stated they would have paid the fines but “could not allow their players in a situation where they may be booked or even forced to leave the field.”

In addition, we were told that sixteen of Iran’s 25 Football squad, play for foreign clubs and so it is more or less impractical to enforce rigid rules unless for security reasons.

Alcohol sales are banned at all World Cup stadiums in Qatar, but that did not stop fans “rocking up” at their hotels, with wild parties.

Who is behind all these “antics” is anybody’s guess? Do they “act their age” or “is it human nature to rebel?

Sri Lankan Cricketer Grills for Alleged Sexual Assault in Auz

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Sri Lanka batter Danushka Gunathilaka has been charged by police after an alleged sexual assault in Sydney’s east. He was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning from the team hotel in Sydney’s central business district after a police investigation into reports that a 29-year-old woman had been sexually assaulted at a residence in Rose Bay earlier in the week.

“The woman met with the man after communicating with him for a number of days via an online dating application; it’s alleged he then sexually assaulted her on the evening of Wednesday 2 November 2022,” a New South Wales police statement said. “As part of ongoing investigations, a crime scene examination was undertaken by specialist police at an address in Rose Bay yesterday.

“Following further inquiries, a 31-year-old man was arrested at a hotel on Sussex Street, Sydney, shortly before 1am today (Sunday 6 November 2022).

“He was taken to Sydney City Police Station and charged with four counts of sexual intercourse without consent. The Sri Lankan national was refused bail to appear at Parramatta Bail Court via AVL today.”

Meanwhile, the local media in Sydney reported that “he was charged with four counts of sexual intercourse without consent and refused bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on Monday.

NSW Sex Crimes Squad commander Jayne Doherty said the woman took a lot of steps to ensure her safety, including communicating with the man for several days before meeting and going for a date in a public place.

“It was just unfortunate. It has nothing to do with meeting on a dating app or anything,” she said.

Detective superintendent Jayne Doherty, commander of the NSW police child abuse and sex crimes squad [ Photo © dailytelegraph.com.au]

SLC issued a statement on Sunday morning after the news had become public.

“Sri Lanka Cricket confirms that it was notified by the ICC that player Danushka Gunathilaka has been arrested on the allegations of sexual assault of a woman in Sydney, and Mr. Gunathilaka is due to appear in court tomorrow (7 November 2022),” the statement said. “SLC will closely monitor the proceedings in court and, in consultation with the ICC, will expeditiously initiate a thorough inquiry into the matter and take stern action against the player if found guilty.”

Gunathilaka was ruled out of the T20 World Cup during the first round with a hamstring injury. He was replaced in the squad but remained with the team in Australia. He has played eight Tests, 47 ODIs and 46 T20Is for Sri Lanka since making his international debut in November 2015.

Sri Lanka’s tournament ended on Sunday following a defeat in their final group match against England at the SCG.

Source: Cricket Info