Football and emotions go hand in hand every single year over history. Players of this game have shown a knack for judging right from wrong and always standing up for the cause for which the common people have been fighting. It is because football is the game of the commoner. As the great Brazilian footballer, Pele once stated that football is a game that can be played throughout the world, it is for sure that footballers are able to resonate with the tunes of common people more than sportspeople of any other game. This FIFA world cup did not remain as an exception. Since the game is being held in Qatar, the amount of protests which have heightened over the last few matches is indeed one of the best examples of football being associated with common people.
History of Protests
Football has never been a step away from politics and ideologies. Players have learned to embrace the good in their culture. This solidarity was absent when the players started to get involved in the money-based club football franchise, but the actual feeling of sportsmanship which takes into consideration the plight of common people is not completely lost.
An Iranian female fan who held up the jersey with the name “Mahsa Amini” with the number 22, because that was her age when she was killed by the religious fundamentalists, was thrown out from the gallery. History shows that footballers have never shied away from protests.
1. Instances Of The Iranian Football Team
The Iranian football team has refused to sing the national anthem of their country in their opening match against England. The event took place on 21st November. The players have stated that they did this in defiance of their government which is trying to shut off the protests which are going on in Iran. The Iranian government is presently facing protests from women all across the country because of the murder of Mahsa Amini who was killed due to the hijab controversy.
The national team has shown complete support for the anti-government protests around the country. The players stood impassively and in silence when the anthem was being played by the FIFA authorities. They seemed grim-faced when the national anthem played in silence around the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. Their protests have gained a huge amount of controversy against the Iranian team but the men proved that they stand beside the anti-hijab campaign taken up by the women in Iran.
2. The Protest of German Players
The German players did not step back when the team was not allowed to wear the rainbow-coloured armband in support of the LGBTQ community. The captain of the German team wished to wear the armband to show their solidarity towards the people of the LGBTQ community. This was especially focused upon because the community is still banned in Qatar.
The team had gone up a notch when they wore jerseys with the words ‘HUMAN RIGHTS’ written in bold on them. This was done to exemplify the fact that although the team was not allowed to wear the rainbow armband, it does not mean that they will not be supporting the needs of human rights. They even put their hands over their mouth for the team photo before their World Cup Opening match to show their disgust for laws that opposed the basic rights of human beings in a country.
3. Uruguay’s Boycott in 1934
When the European teams refused to travel to their home place for the tournament in 1930, Uruguay decided to pull back from the tournament in 1934. The event was to be held in Italy and this was the only time when Uruguay did not get into the top teams for the games.
4. Africa’s Boycott in 1966
In 1964, the entire continent of Africa decided to boycott the FIFA World Cup tournament because they thought that they were not being well represented by the international organization. The boycott had worked as it was voted two years later that Africa would get a World Cup place. The vote was unanimous.
5. Protests in Brazil in 2014
When the country was facing issues of famine and death in each district, Brazil was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup Tournament in 2014. This sparked a large number of protests from different classes of people. There were public demonstrations of these protests and the government had to face a huge amount of backlash from the public. This was a memorable moment in history when the most avid football fans of the world refused to host the event in their own country.
6. Soviet Union versus Chile in 1974
The Soviet Union refused to play against Chile in 1974 because the ruthless Augusto Pinochet killed the previous president of Chile in order to take over power. This led to sparks of protests and the Soviets refused to play against this team. The Soviet was banned from the game. Chile was allowed to poke a goal into the net in the scheduled time and was declared the winner of the game.
Few Final Thoughts
As we move towards the scale of conclusion, we have to remember the words of the great Pele once again. He had said that football is the only sport where you put people together. It does not matter whether you are rich or poor, white or black. It builds one nation. That will always be the beauty of football.
It is for sure that the players of Iran will have to face consequences when they get back to their country. The team performed well in their match against England. However, it is for sure that they will not lose their indomitable spirit which caused them to protest against the injustices happening in their country. The common people who are involved in the protests have also gained a huge amount of support because of the inspiration provided by the Iranian footballers on the field. The same goes for the German players who took a step for the LGBTQ community in Qatar. As fans, we can only marvel at these displays of courage and idealism among our favorite players.