08 June 2012

Football & Politics & Philosophy

Three reports that came up in the news feed today prompt this post. The first is about Mahmoud Sarsak, a midfielder on the Palestinian National Team, who is being held without charge in an Israeli prison. (Detention without charge is something the US and Israel seem to be perfecting as a "democratic" tactic.) Sarsak is  past the 82nd day of a hunger strike protesting his detention. Yet another instance of senseless, repressive policy by the Israeli government.

The second report is simply a photographic record of the ongoing efforts of FEMEN to call attention to (among many other things) the sex trade that invariably surrounds major sporting events.  [More here.]  I have posted here before on FEMEN and its ongoing campaign for women's rights.

Friday June 8, 02:23 PM: French members of Ukrainian feminist group Femen protest against prostitution near the National Stadium in Warsaw on June 8, 2012, before the opening match of the Euro 2012 football championship between Poland and Greece. Photograph © AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINISARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GettyImages.

I've edited the caption supplied with the photo because the women shown here - Oksana Shachko and Inna Shevchenko - are Ukrainian, not French. These are astute, creative and brave young women.

Finally, there is this essay by philosopher Peter Singer asking whether it is "OK" to cheat in football. In fact, the answer seems to be "of course." And there is little surprise there. Why should football be different than, say, College Basketball in the US or riders doping in the Tour de France or steroid users in Major League Baseball or . . . cheating in virtually any other sport? In one sense, Singer is preaching virtue. And I think his notion that in the scenario he paints German fans might have been "disappointed" is more than a bit of an understatement. But, looked at in terms of its possible consequences, the sort of honesty he recommends might have a deep, longstanding impact. I think that is his point and, especially because football is infused with nationalism, we should not lose sight of it.

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