SPORT AND POLITICS: The Political Tournament That Became Less and Less

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Before the start of the 2018 World Cup, many around the world were concerned for the state of our political world. After FIFA’s fines for creating political statements on the pitch, many were concerned that the football would be overshadowed by fines and bans. Fortunately, there have not been as many as we expected. Two Albanian-Serbian men were fined recently for creating ‘political symbols’ with their hands, mainly of the double headed eagle structure found on the Albanian flag.

This World Cup has not been targeted by the American government, which is understandable, considering their failure to qualify, but instead the target went to the World Cup in eight years time which North America is bidding to host. Its main rival is Morrocco, and President Trump tweeted this on April 27: ‘It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid… Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us?’ The tweet is percieved as vaguely threatening, and considering the current climate and previous nuclear war threats, many were and are concerned about if this ‘threat’ is truly empty or not. The tweet was later said to not have been a threat by the U.S soccer chief, and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and President Pena Nieto of Mexico also showed their political support.

Before the tournament, many were calling for England to boycott the event. This was not for the sake of our inexperienced team – of course we didn’t want them losing on penalties (something that has now been changed). Instead, it was because the UK government had recently blamed Russia for the attempted murder (suspected assassination) of a Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury earlier this year. This was because he and his daughter were poisoned by a Russian produced nerve agent named Novichok. Also, Boris Johnson later compared this World Cup to Hitlers Nazi Germany Olympics in 1936, saying that he will hold Moscow responsible for the safety of England fans. Despite the disputes, tickets were later given to Theresa May for the Quarter-Finals that England recently qualified for.

On the 5th of July, Diego Maradona officially apologised for accusing the England team of committing ‘robbery’ in the defeat of Colombia, and of accusing referee Mark Geiger of bias during the Final 16 match between the two teams. His statement was given with the ‘evidence’ of how Geiger only spoke English, something that was expected of the American. This was his sixth World Cup refereeing, and his second Colombia match. He was also accused of bias by the Colombian captain Radamel Falcao. Maradona was replied to by FIFA, and reminded of the rules of the World Cup. No other comment was given.

Overall, despite the political nature of the game and Cup, the football has not quite been overshadowed by the politics, with most of England and the World enjoying the tournament as it has been enjoyed for the past 88 years, ever since Uruguay 1930.

VulneraSanentur4, Faringdon Community College


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