Israel is a member of UEFA
Except for the sports boycott against Apartheid South Africa, FIFA has rarely acted against rogue states, especially ones who illegally occupy and oppress others. Suspending Russia broke with that.
Like most people, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the bizarre responses on the Left to the aggression have dominated my writing and editing for the last week or so. I wrote or cowrote a few pieces, including a short of editorial statement for Africa Is a Country, about solidarity with Ukrainians (and Russians opposing the war) as well as pointing to the wrongheaded politics of tankies and Russophiles (and Afropessimists) eager to construe Russia’s aggression as an anti-imperialist advance. In any case, it also included this football reference:
Outside of the media, the space where we have seen Western double standards on full display the most the last few weeks, is sports. In the last week or so, FIFA and UEFA, which control global and continental football in Europe respectively, went from hedging about the war (Russia’s national team could still play fixtures but sans national colors, anthems, and flags) to an outright suspension of all Russian national and club teams from its competitions. Similarly, some of Europe’s top clubs funded by Russian money, most notably Chelsea, Everton, Schalke, and UEFA itself, have cut ties with Russia’s oligarchs. Anyone familiar with FIFA, or any of the other global sports bodies known for their reticence to punish Russia, was thrown for a surprise. Just last month, the IOC, which organizes the Olympics, allowed Russia to compete despite its national teams openly using banned substances to increase their chances of winning. Also, with the exception of the sports boycott against Apartheid South Africa,* FIFA has rarely acted against rogue states, especially ones who illegally occupy and oppress others: Saudi-Arabia in Yemen, the US and its various invasions and occupations in the past, Morocco in Western Sahara, India in Kashmir, and Israel over the Palestinians, just to name a few. Israel’s case is one that hits closer to home for European football: Israel is a member of UEFA.
Update: On Twitter, @hajduk_1976 reminded me that I am “forgetting Yugoslavia (read Serbia) [was] booted from the Euro Championship in 1992 for exactly the same reason that Russia is now suspended.”
[Image: David Katz, via Flickr CC]