when the world of sport gets involved to make people forget their past wanderings
The Russian football team has not been allowed to participate in the qualifying play-offs for the 2022 World Cup. Russian tennis players will be deprived of Wimbledon at the end of June. Their compatriots will not be attending the world athletics championships either, in July in Eugene on the American west coast… Since February 24, the sports world has not stopped punishing Russia. This makes it possible to reach Russian public opinion and bypass the filters of Putin’s censorship to show it the worldwide turmoil that the actions of its army arouse. But it also offers arguments to the Kremlin’s botox to feed Russian paranoia towards the Western world.
This attitude of the sports world is unprecedented. Only South Africa, during the apartheid era, experienced such ostracism. The South American dictatorships and their barbaric repressions, the oil monarchies of the Gulf and their treatment of women or the police states like East Germany have never been banned from sports competitions from which they have, on the contrary, drawn a maximum prestige. The Argentine of the generals at the 1978 World Cup, the Qatari Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his four victories on the Dakar or the successes of the skater Katarina Witt testify to the cohabitation without embarrassment of the sports authorities with barbaric regimes.
Why are the IOC and Fifa suddenly bringing politics into their arbitrations? Surely out of fear that their past complacency will be reproached to them. For a long time, they gave everything to Vladimir Putin. He notably backed the fable of Russian renewal on the organization of the Sochi Olympics in 2014, or the World Cup four years later. By closing the door of their competitions to athletes who have nothing to do with it, Fifa and the IOC are making decisions that are as unfair as they are cynical.