SO FIFA has finally got something right. I refer not to the peculiar ‘I feel gay, disabled . . . like a woman too’ remarks of its president, Gianni Infantino, but to the announcement that any captains wearing ‘OneLove’ rainbow armbands would be yellow-carded. This led to a complete cave-in by those captains planning to wear them, including England’s Harry Kane for the England v Iran match.
Full marks to the former editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, in calling it out on GB News, especially when he said that at least 65 per cent of viewers would either have no interest in or actually oppose the armband being worn and stressed that there is more than one view on these issues amongst the public who actually pay the TV licence, much though the BBC pushes the line that only one view is permitted.
This was far from the end of the political theatre surrounding the England World Cup team as spectators and viewers then still had to endure the excruciating spectacle of their ‘taking the knee’, the highly charged political gesture which came to the fore during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, and which they have continued to persist with for more than two years, although so far no other side has declared they will do likewise.
The manager, Gareth Southgate, may say it is a strong statement about ‘inclusivity’ but a very clear majority of those who follow either the team or the sport generally feel very differently – that it is importing American identity politics into British sport, indeed that it actually demeans us. Many of us, whether followers of the sport or not, are utterly sick of it.
Anyone voicing these types of objections receives the usual vilification, including being childishly tagged as a racist and a homophobe etc. I beg to differ, though no one in the FA, the Premier League or their broadcasters seems to get it, or more likely is wilfully blind to it, when it comes to booing or disapproving of ‘taking the knee’.
The fact is that people want to be left in peace to enjoy their sport. They watch it to be entertained, support their respective teams and maybe enjoy a bit of escapism from the trials of their daily life. And they want to do that without having moralising lectures and political slogans being thrust down their throats every five minutes.
I for one have found many of the sports I used to enjoy utterly unwatchable since they were hijacked for often contentious political causes. That especially applies to the England football team, though the hype around it has made that an overrated experience in itself for many years.
While we’re on the subject, is it also not too much to be able to go shopping without being assailed by stores that it’s ‘Black History Month’ or ‘Pride Month’ etc? Likewise it would be nice to have civic offices and other public buildings free from similar political and social slogans and not constantly flying rainbow flags. Sometimes a stroll through a UK city centre quite quickly feels like an inadvertent stumble into territory that is under the control of a foreign power, almost to the extent that it feels like there’s a deliberate and calculated move to demoralise and humiliate UK residents.
One of the worst offenders is Sainsbury’s, which nicely brings us back to Qatar as the supermarket’s major shareholder is Qatar Holdings LLC. I’m prepared to accept that the Qataris have the right to run their country as they deem fit. Is it not too much for us to tell them, and others, that we have the same right to run our country as we see fit and for them to stay well out of our politics too?
Some long overdue push-back from our supposedly Conservative government would be appreciated as well. They have been absent from parade on these issues for far too long. No wonder they are now viewed as ‘Conservatives In Name Only’.