Football bodies should stop sending mixed signals against war

There have been various political expressions in the European football leagues following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The leagues are vehemently opposed to the war.

While this symbolism is apt, one cannot help but feel that it rings hollow, especially when contrasted against the harsh and gruesome reality of what is happening on the frontlines of the conflict.

The war in Ukraine has gripped the world’s attention. However, I doubt Russian President Vladimir Putin is affected by the criticisms from fans and footballers alike – including those from Russia – who are against the war.

Imagine being a Ukrainian and facing the real threat of losing your life, your home, and your loved ones. At this critical juncture in the fight for Ukraine’s survival, the Ukrainians may appreciate the support they are getting from everyone, but it does little to allay the fears and distress that they face daily.

It is also convenient for football to show support for Ukraine by penalising those who sympathise or are associated with Russia.

After all, the football rule book forbids the use of “gestures, words, objects, or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive, or provocative in nature”.

This was raised in 2016 when fans waved Palestinian flags as the host team Celtic FC played the Israeli side, Hapoel Be’er Sheva during a match in Glasgow. UEFA later slapped Celtic with a £15,000 fine following the incident.

In 2015, the Palestine Football Association did not receive sufficient support from the other Fifa board members during its Congress meeting to boot Israel out of the world body following frequent clashes between the two Middle East states.

Doesn’t this show that the football authorities are inconsistent in their quest to uphold justice and freedom?

Football authorities should either go all in for political causes, or stay out of them completely. It cannot be sending mixed signals.

How does starting your league match five minutes later, or walking out in T-shirts with messages against the war, or unfurling a huge Ukraine flag in the stands, help end the fighting?

They don’t.

These actions make no difference at all.

So, let’s just get on with the game, please.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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