- 01. George Floyd's Death
- 02. Ilkay Gundogan and Mesut Özil Posing with Turkish President
- 03. Pep Guardiola's Support of the Catalan Independence
- 04. Nigeria's Super Eagle and the Politics In Selecting Players
- 05. Gennaro Gattuso and the Former Deputy PM of Italy
- 06. Marcus Rashford's Charity Initiative
In the world of football, it would be almost impossible to take politics away from it. As a football fan, it is a culture for you to have a preferred team and in most cases a player you cherished so much.
In the same way, football fans tend to be political in their dealings, so also football bodies tend to include politics in the sport. We have often heard the phrase that says football and politics shouldn't mix. However, as it stands, it is impossible to take away politics from football.
We have seen different cases where players and teams use sports to spread the message of "No Racism", and how politics has played a huge role in Chelsea Football Club.
One would begin to wonder if Chelsea Club owner, Mr Abramovich is the reason behind the war between Russia and Ukraine. Placing sanctions on Chelsea Football Club is hugely political and there are other cases of football and politics all around the world.
In this article, we shall be looking at other different football cases that have a lot to do with politics.
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George Floyd's Death
Racism is a phenomenon that has plagued the world for centuries and it is still experienced as we speak. Be it in sports or other spheres of life, we have seen cases where people are abused because of their race.
From Lukaku, Bukayo Saka, Balotelli, to so many others, we have seen where football matches were stopped because players refused to continue playing in a show of solidarity for their abused colleagues.
The one that drew the world's attention is the case of George Floyd and how he was gruesomely murdered. There were a lot of protests in the US, Europe, Asia, and even in countries like Nigeria in Africa. Even a lot of people have forgotten about Floyd's case, the effect is still felt in football today, especially in the premier league.
Before any EPL match commences, you will see players kneeling as a way of condemning racism and letting people know that racism should never be condoned. I have even seen Nigerian football fans in sports viewing centres kneeling just to support this course.
Has racism completely stopped? No! Is there any guarantee that it would stop a few years from now? No guarantee whatsoever!
However, the football world has played its role politically in spreading the news that racism shouldn't be tolerated at any level.
Ilkay Gundogan and Mesut Özil Posing with Turkish President
Most people are familiar with this case and it was between Ozil and Gundogan posing with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in 2018.
These two players, although born and bred in Germany and played for the German football team, they are of Turkish descent. When the Turkish President visited London in 2018, these two players were seen with the President and eyebrows were raised, insinuating that the photo was politically motivated.
The case was so popular at that time that even Nigerian analysts spent a lot of time talking about it on air. The two players (Mesut and Ilkay) didn't have it funny as they were booed by fans when Germany played friendly matches just before the world cup.
At a point, Mesut Ozil was infuriated because people brought in politics for posing with the Turkish President. In the end, both players defended themselves that the picture has nothing to do with the forthcoming election in Turkey and there is nothing political about it.
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Pep Guardiola's Support of the Catalan Independence
In the wake of the political turmoil between the Spanish government and Catalan fighting for their independence, one name in the sporting world that comes to play is Pep Guardiola. A one-time Spanish footballer and the current coach of Manchester City, Pep showed his solidarity by putting on a yellow ribbon that is politically motivated.
The Catalan Parliament were fighting for their independence from Spain and the Spanish government didn't buy the idea. At some point, the issue got so intended that some ministers were arrested and charged for rebellion and misappropriation of funds.
As the case was coming to an end, Pep Guardiola, being a native Catalonian, started putting on a yellow ribbon, which is a subtle message of his support for Catalonia's Independence. The matter wasn't treated with kid gloves as Pep was fined £20,000.
At that point, the major worries of Manchester City were whether the club would receive a backlash from the political world and charged a hefty sum.
Apart from Catalonia's issue, Pep was also accused of playing politics in his team's selection. A notable case was when he dropped Joe Hart in favour of a goalkeeper he had some good time within his former club.
Nigeria's Super Eagle and the Politics In Selecting Players
If we were to work with a merit list, it doesn't matter whether a Nigerian Football player is from the north or south of the country. However, we have seen on so many occasions that players selection is highly political in Nigeria.
This case has been discussed on different sporting platforms in Nigeria and we have even heard of cases where coaches complained of not having the power to choose their best team.
Until we stop involving politics in Nigerian Football, we may never get the best out of the country. Nigeria is blessed with people with great potential, but she may not attain her level if things are being politicalized all the time. But the question remains, can we ever take politics out of sports? It's quite complicated.
In short, the Nigerian Football Federation is full of political moves and that is the genesis of the issue. A lawmaker having a say on who and who not to play for a country tells a lot about the impact of politics in the world of sports.
Gennaro Gattuso and the Former Deputy PM of Italy
Mixing politics and sports is something that has been with us and may continue this way for years to come. One notable case was between Gattuso, a former AC Milan player and coach, and Matteo Salvini, a former deputy PM of Italy.
It happened that Salvini is a fan of AC Milan and was at the stadium to watch a game between AC Milan and Lazio in 2018. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and the then deputy prime minister made some remarks about the match. Not okay with the remarks, Gattuso told the former deputy PM to focus more on politics than football.
After the match in which Lazio snatched a last-minute draw, Salvini was disappointed. As a fan of the club, he made a comment talking about why Gattuso (the coach of the team) didn't make some substitutions seeing that some players were already exhausted.
Football journalists took the message to Gattuso and asked him what he thought about the PM's remark. The ex-football player replied by saying he doesn't talk about politics because he doesn't understand anything. He was insinuating that the PM shouldn't say what he knows nothing about.
Gattuso was just the coach of the club and I'm not sure if he has the right to tell a politician not to talk about football. Football and politics appear to be bedfellows.
Marcus Rashford's Charity Initiative
In 2020 during the coronavirus lockdown, Marcus Rashfors made the news headline by engaging in feeding kids in Britain. According to Marcus, the initiative was born owing to his past. He said there were times when his family had no food to eat and they go to sleep without eating.
Having experienced what it means to be hungry as a child, Marcus started a social justice campaign on child food poverty by feeding kids in the UK. Is Marcus the first to be involved in feeding kids? Of course, not. Would he be the last to do so? Not!
However, his popularity in the world of football had made the social justice campaign. The initiative of Marcus Rashford in providing free school meals in Britain during holidays and supporting low-income families led to significant changes in government policy.
In the end, Marcus Rashford's work was recognized by different bodies- he was recognized at the BBC Sports Personality of The Year and Best Fifa Football Awards.
All these examples listed in this article are just a few proofs to show that politics and football are greatly connected. As it stands today, nobody can say sports is not political. Whether in Nigeria or any other country in the world, football and politics have always been bedfellows.
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