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Sunday, June 18, 2006
World Cup Politics

My thanks again to Michael and everyone else for their allowance of my posts. I dedicate this also to my father, whose life with my mother began in the shadow of the Vietnam War and who always commended to me the nexus between sports and war.

The World Cup has also brought this connection to the front. On the one hand, the proposed visit of the Iranian President to Germany, a nation that criminalizes the denial of the Holocaust, has caused its own controversy. That story has been marred largely by the poilitical triangulation of Neo-Nazi and Anti-Nazi forces in Germany with the Iranian President.

Yet the more pertinent story, I think, is the ban on the World Cup instituted by a fundamentalist Somali caliphate. They control only a part of the country. Yet the notion here is that the advertisement of alcohol marks the World Cup as inappropriate for an Islamic audience. They have banned the viewing of the Cup, including its showing in public film halls. Somali film halls showing soccer games have been a site for warfare before this World Cup, as well.

I favor the depoliticization of sports, where possible. Here, I think it is. A norm developed during the Middle Ages and afterwards, concerning using Churches as sanctuaries (see 16 St. Thomas L. Rev. 473). I wonder if sports halls can be treated in the same way and if a consensus could build to condemn violence at sports arenas (and film halls showing sports events). I wonder too whether sports halls could become a forum for humanity, where various sides of political conflicts can come together. Though not an apolitical ambition, I hope it a worthwhile one. If it is soccer or sport that unites a divided nation, so be it.


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