The threat of a yellow card is enough to make soccer players stick their tails between their legs. Meanwhile, violations of human rights cost human lives, every day.
It would have been an honor. It would have been a minimal price to pay – a yellow card for the national team captain for wearing the message ” 1 love” on his armband in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people. A small price to pay for staying true to one´s values and a convenient statement without actually having to participate in the fight for human rights.
It would have been beautiful. Imagine seeing Western democracies stand up for those who do not have the opportunity to express themselves freely, without facing consequences – in the form of beatings, imprisonment, persecution of family members, or even death. But a gentle pressure and poof – there goes their solidarity down in the gutters. The thought of being met with consequences for standing up for their values in the form of effecting their professional performance and financial future was enough to make them retreat.
I have written about why authoritarian dictatorship states should not be allowed to hold prestigious sporting events (tillykke med kvalifikationen, Danmark). It is a way of legitimizing their regimes, it is a mockery of the thousands of people who have paid with their lives so that our Western well-padded bums can sit and howl during the staged events, orchestrated by deeply anti-democratic and corrupt regimes.
Instead, it is the players on Iran’s national team who are leading the way by refusing to sing along to their country’s national anthem – and according to Amnesty National risk torture when they return to Iran. A country in chaos, where women have been protesting for weeks for freedoms every woman in the West takes for granted – hundreds have paid with their lives, many have been sent to internment camps, and even more have been tortured.
Once again, the West acts like fools. Little by little, the measures that have been negotiated in advance – such as getting a draft beer during football matches – are being withdrawn. But it’s not so much about the draft beer that fans don’t get down their throats – it’s about the fact that you can’t trust regimes that play by completely different rules than those Western countries are used to following. And when you bow your head and model your participation according to views far from those the West stands for – you give the violent regimes the platform they want and the recognition that invites them into the same club as Western democracies – a club they don´t belong to.
Not all countries are equal, that should be ok to say. When FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, in his infantile way said that the West must apologize for the next 3,000 years for the past 3,000 years of misdeeds, it screams to the high heavens. The logic is that the countries that have become wiser, i.e. the Western democracies, in no way have the right to hold countries without respect for general human rights accountable. This means that the killing of LGBTQIA+ people, the killing of women and migrant workers, the oppression of girls, etc., etc., should not be prosecuted and that nothing should be done about the fates of the weakest.
The lesson seems to be that we must close our eyes and rejoice that we live in countries where we do not have to fight for rights as independent, free individuals – and let the rest of the world’s weakest populations carry on as best they can. The soccer players seem to agree: The national Danish team (with DBU as the supreme body) has indicated that they will leave all integrity in the dressing room and crawl onto the field like mice – not like men – unwilling to take advantage of their unique , privileged position to show the onlooking world their solidarity with the world’s weakest and stand up for the values that the West, at a safe distance from the world’s focal points, prides itself on standing for.
En besk smag af hykleri og mangel på integritet i fodboldverdenen
Truslen om et gult kort er nok til at fodboldspillere stikker halen mellem benene. Imens koster brud på menneskerettighederne hver dag menneskeliv.