Skip to main content

Korean Minefield

Recently, a game between North Korea and Finland became a political - yep - football.

During the FIFA Women's Under-20 World Cup in Canada, fans of Korean unification turned out to support the DPRK, aka North Korea, and to show their unbiased approach to the coming together of the two Koreas,  separated after the Korean War 60 years ago.

This was intended to make a non-violent statement, using the peaceful focal point of football as the vehicle.

All well and good you might say. Not for FIFA.

As you can read here in this eyewitness account, a FIFA official moved in and shut the support down.  The official cited FIFA regulations which require there to be no political statements in a FIFA sanctioned game.

This looks to be a can of worms, allowing hypocritical applications of the rule to suit common or accepted prejudices.

For instance, women are not permitted to attend many games in the Middle East (I recall a Socceroos World Cup qualifier some time ago in Iran where this was the case). Or, what about cases of fans chanting racist or otherwise offensive chants or holding Nazi flags or bearing violent tattoos say? Are these not political statements?

According to the report linked here, FIFA, through its official, argued that both South and North Korea are recognised internationally as distinct, sovereign states. As such, calling for their unification is characterised as a political act deemed outside the rules.

While this appears a double standard, suggested by the examples I have noted above, its also undermines the very value of football to reach apolitical solutions to apparently political problems.

If the North Korea v Finland game became a means by which Koreans from both sides of the border can somehow unite - and let's not forget that families have been split by the separation of the Korea Peninsula - then isn't that a win for all concerned, at a level that supercedes mere politics? Isn't that then a possible thread that may be woven into something even firmer over time?

Sure, when "fans" at football games use the moment to make violent, prejudicial or otherwise untenable political or semi-political points, then this should be stopped. But, should people seek to use football to generate reconciliation and trust in a non-violent way, then surely this should be not only allowed, but encouraged.


Popular posts from this blog

In these times, find the joy of being human

The election of Donald J Trump as America's 45th President, confirmed in this week's inauguration, presents numerous challenges to human rights and people power.

The boorish, misogynistic, arrogant tenor of his campaign has cast a pall over the rights of minorities in America and across the globe as his "America First" call, by definition, puts everyone else second or worse. The only equality in the scenario he presents is of the George Orwell type: that of some being more equal than others.

Such a situation already exists of course. Western males wield more direct and indirect power in global terms than, say, a dark-skinned girl in a slum. Trump is hardly breaking new ground. But, his ascendancy gives that dark reality more momentum. It puts it closer to the centre of normal. His message threatens to break the positive values that link human beings to each other.

Globally, governments, civil society and civilians need to make a stand.

We need to step up to demand f…

Rohingya Football Club Program Details

The Kick Project board has now reached agreement with the Rohingya Football Club, Kuala Lumpur, to proceed with the following program. 

We are now formally raising funds for the following program, which we aim to begin in January 2016.

Phase One:

Part 1
Aim 1: Provide full playing kit for the current Rohingya Football Club (RFC) squad. This includes: shirts, shorts, socks, shin-pads, boots, goalkeeper equipment
Aim 2: Fund a single playing space for football games. This includes paying fees on a designated municipal football field.
Aim 3: Fund Transport. This includes purchasing or leasing a minivan.
Part 2
Aim 1: To establish a “Ball Library”. This will be set up as a focal point for the RFC and also for the Rohingya community, with special focus on encouraging access for Rohingya children. Appropriate education initiatives (approved by both RFC representatives and The Kick Project via the Program Management Committee) may be conducted and/or promoted in the Ball Library premises;
Aim 2: T…

Playing for Positives: How Pro Sport and Good Causes Can Work Together

Interesting read from The New Yorker on the authority and power invested in professional athletes, in relation to influencing the progress of social justice.

The focus here is on American sports, but the theme can be easily extended to other sports, worldwide.

It's perhaps no surprise perhaps that the rise of pro sports as a massive industry in its own right, with the parallel gains for individuals in money and celebrity terms, that more athletes don't speak out about important issues. There's clearly a lot at stake, and a lot to lose for those who step off the tightly managed corporate line running through most large sports organisations and clubs.

But, the fact that a large percentage of today's professional athletes come from simple backgrounds, if not from situations of outright poverty and/or abuse, begs the question of why don't more speak up about the circumstances that they escaped from and in which some of their peers in youth remain ensconced?

The Kick P…