The hypocrisy of the Israeli invasion of Gaza has taken a new turn. Somewhat bizarrely, this has happened in the normally anodyne world of professional football.
This week, Spanish side Sevilla’s striker Frederic Kanoute was shown a yellow card after scoring a goal and raising his shirt above his head to show a t-shirt in support of the Palestinians. The referee, Antonio Mateu Lahoz, stated in his post-match report that he had cautioned Kanoute for raising his shirt over his head in accordance with federation rules, while also noting the message of the striker’s T-shirt. The message on the striker’s t-shirt was ‘Palestine’: no more, no less.
A few weeks ago, the English Football Association decided not to take disciplinary action against Liverpool FC following the club’s public show of support for Michael Shields, the Liverpool supporter jailed for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian waiter in 2005.
In protest against the 22-year-old’s conviction, ALL the team’s players wore t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Free Michael Now’ emblazoned across them, the Kop held aloft a mosaic with the same message, and the actress Sue Johnston, accompanied by Shields’ parents, made a speech on the pitch in which she called on the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, to “do the right thing”.
The FA, whilst alleged to have been “alarmed” by Liverpool’s public backing f, decided not to press ahead with any disciplinary action.
Likewise Fifa, world football’s governing body, also confirmed that it too would be taking no action despite having contacted the FA over the events at Anfield. As their press release stated, any disciplinary measures were the responsibility of the host authority.
As a professional footballer therefore and role model for children and young people all other the world, you can support en masse a man convicted of attempted murder: no questions asked.
But stand against the brutal killing of hundreds of men, women and children and that sadly, is a completely different thing.
How misguided things are.
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