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THREE LIONS POISED TO TACKLE FRANCE: POLITICS OF SPORT

Updated: Dec 8, 2022



In the excellent article below, our colleague Shehan Ratnavle reflects on the politics of sport. He writes: “Acknowledging that the FIFA World Cup is an exciting global event is easy. Digesting that FIFA World cup qualifying matches could trigger a war is more challenging…”


Remembering the Football War at World Cup

By Shehan Ratnavale - Sunday Times, Colombo - 4.12.22:



Shehan concludes by reinforcing his interviewee, Victor Zazeraj, former South African ambassador’s remark: "Coming from a country with a long history of racial division, I learnt early in life that language matters. Once it becomes acceptable to insult and dehumanise others, actions with ugly consequences often follow.


Whilst the quarter-finals game on Saturday 10 December 2022, promises to be truly exciting, one is reminded of the close correlation between the nationalistic fervour in sport and futile wars that have been ignited by unthinking nationalistic rhetoric.


In a post-Brexit UK should one dare ask the Norman Tebbit question from French expats in the UK: “Who will you be supporting on Saturday?”


Duality of loyalty is not treachery when it comes to sport.


It is surely possible to be perfectly comfortable about supporting France and yet bear true allegiance to one’s country of “hebergement” or domicile? We are human beings with mixed feelings about a lot of things, after all.


This archive photo from a tweet from Mike Atherton on his article from the Times summarises modern thinking on the Tebbit test:



Being devoutly concerned about the harm that has been inflicted upon the country by inexpert statecraft and “having a ball” supporting the team from your country of origin are surely two different things?


They are not to be conflated.

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