He looks up and sees his number up on the board. He thinks everything on the pitch is on course for him to score. He is chasing after every ball, he has not put a foot wrong all game. Yet he sees the fourth official holding a board with his number, up for a substitution. Who is coming on?His rival for the spot on the team. He does not like him one bit and sees him more as a nemesis than a teammate. He trudges toward the touchline. Refuses to shake the hand of the man who made the decision, his manager. Walks over to his seat on the “bench”. Mumbles every unprintable,un-family word there is. Sounds familiar? Today I talk about protests and boycotts in sports. Do they work? Do they achieve the results they intend to get? Is it just posturing and attention grabbing?
The above description is what happened at Anfield last week midweek when Liverpool were at home to Chelsea. Losing the game, manager Jurgen Klopp made the decision to sub Mo Salah who was ineffectual the whole game and bring on Diogo Jota. This is an example of a more subtle boycott or protest. A few years back one Carlos Tevez refused to warm up in the view to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich in a champions league game for Manchester City when instructed to do so by the then manager Roberto Mancini. This showed to the world the team’s”dirty laundry” and undermined the whole team bit just the manager. In recent years, the black lives matter movement has gathered steam following the despicable incidences such as what happened to George Floyd. Going down on one knee before the match is now a fixture in England before soccer games but there was a time when it was viewed as a rebellion against the government in the USA. NFL players and other athletes would go on one knee when the national anthem is playing to voice their concerns on issues such as racism. Coaches viewed this as a disgrace and an attack on the establishment. Then President Donald Trump went as far as to call “kneeling” athletes disrespectful to the flag and the country. I will go on record as saying these protests did their intended strategy, that is to make people aware of the evils happening so that corrective action is taken. God , such things as shooting of unarmed ethnic minority persons has been going on for far too long. However protests should be done is such a way they do not infringe on the rights of others especially those who do not share same beliefs as your own.
So when Tevez refused to come on as a sub, he infringed on the manager’s right to authority on his team. Other players were watching. What would be going through their minds?If Carlos can do this maybe I might get away with a late night binge drinking at a club before the game. One example of protests and boycotts which achieved absolutely nothing is the USA boycott of the Moscow Olympic games 1980. As the story goes, the USA were very upset at the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979. 65 more nations followed uncle Sam’s lead and did not participate as well. Yes this was during the hottest years of the Cold War. But can you imagine how many athletes were disadvantaged by this.How many careers and jobs would have been created had the States and his allies had participated. It served no purpose whatsoever. The Games did go on. In hindsight, if the boycotting countries had participated maybe it would have helped build friendships and helped end the cold war much sooner than the 1991 end year. In a crazy twist of fate, the 1984 Olympics took place in Los Angeles, USA. You can guess what happened. Soviet Union and her occupied territories boycotted the Games sighting unsafe conditions. In the end nothing was achieved. So which side are you on? To protest and boycott or to dialogue?