Own goal for football

Sport, according to a popular saying, is a form of war by other means.

Own goal for football

Sport, according to a popular saying, is a form of war by other means.

There is not a governing body in the world which is not conscious of the dangers of seeing their games hijacked for one political cause or another.

The apotheosis of sporting competitive challenge is the Olympics and we will enter 2020, an Olympic year, with the Games scheduled for Japan, who proved immaculate hosts during this year’s Rugby World Cup.

But at the same time one of the major geopolitical powers, Russia, has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) from competing in either the XXIII Olympiad or the 2022 World Cup.

This punishment is being appealed on the personal instructions of president Vladimir Putin.

While there is nothing to argue about in the eradication of systematic doping programmes, there is complexity in freedom of speech and human rights issues which has become even more stress-tested in this interconnected world where opinions fly around at the press of a keystroke.

Thus it is that the Premier League team Arsenal, owned by a US investor, have distanced themselves from the comments of one of their players, German Muslim Mesut Ozil, who used social media to support the cause of the oppressed Uighurs in China, which is a lucrative market for Western football.

The Gunners have opened themselves to the accusation that they have put commercial instinct ahead of conscience.

While Ozil may not be an Arsenal player for much longer, he is on the right side of this argument.

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