In recent times, football has never been involved in political matters as much as it has been in the war between Russia and Ukraine. This has made many cry out against double standards in football.
Recall that since Thursday, February 24, 2022, when the president of Russia Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian troops to invade Ukraine, there have been a series of outcry against the action.
Due to the intensity of the ongoing invasion which has killed numerous people in Ukraine, the world football governing body, FIFA, has placed a temporary ban on Russia’s national teams and the country’s club sides.
UEFA also followed suit by banning the country’s national teams and club sides until the country withdraws its troops from its neighboring east European country.
Besides the sanctions from FIFA and UEFA, billionaires from Russia who have investments in football like Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov have had to lose their investments due to the ongoing invasion.
To further prove the double standards in football, FIFA has approved any form of support for Ukraine during football games. This used to be a punishable offense long before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Recall that Egyptian footballer Mohamed Aboutrika had to be punished for displaying a message during a game in 2008 in support of war-torn Palestine.
Then, Israel was said to be killing civilians in the country including children and Aboutrika had to use football to call the attention of the world to it but had to be sanctioned for it. The excuse from football bodies was that Aboutrika mixed politics with football.
Also, when Mesut Ozil was at Arsenal between 2013 and 2021, the German footballer suffered a series of backlash from the club and its sponsors for urging China to end its genocide on Uyghur Muslims.
The fact that Ozil called on China to end their mass killing of Uyghur Muslims frustrated his career at Arsenal until he was forced to leave the club for Turkish side Fenerbahce on a free transfer on January 25, 2021.
Aside from the aforementioned, there have been wars and invasions in Africa and the Middle East by western powers but FIFA and UEFA have never directly reacted against the plights of war-torn countries outside Europe.
Double standards pic.twitter.com/tNcRjQABAd— Troll Football (@TrollFootball) February 28, 2022
The argument against the double standards in football
Former Egyptian footballer Mohamed Aboutrika who was punished for showing support to the plight of the people of Gaza in 2008, has insisted that FIFA confirmed its double standards for banning Russians from football after invading Ukraine but did not ban Israel for invading Palestine.
“The decision to suspend Russian clubs and teams from all competitions must be accompanied by a ban on those affiliated with Israel,” Aboutrika told Quds News on Monday. “(Israel) has been killing children and women in Palestine for years. You’re using double standards.”
Mohamed Aboutrika addressing FIFA: “The decision to suspend Russian clubs and teams from all competitions must be accompanied by a ban on those affiliated with Israel, which has been killing children and women in Palestine for years. You re using double standards.” pic.twitter.com/pCjyiLlSvW— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) February 28, 2022
In the same vein, when Russia captain Artem Dzyuba replied to Ukraine’s Vitaliy Mykolenko who criticized Russian footballers for not speaking out against the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Dzyuba noted the alarming double standards in football.
He said: “I am against double standards. Why are some allowed everything, but we are blamed for everything? Why does everyone always say that sport is apolitical, but with the first opportunity, when it concerns Russia, this principle is absolutely forgotten?”
Also, Turkish footballer, Aykut Demir who refused to wear a t-shirt supporting Ukraine amid the invasion of the country by the Russian military revealed that he decided not to wear the shirt because it was not made for the people dying in the middle east.
He believes that the attention and support against the war in Ukraine confirmed that there are double standards in football.
He said: “Thousands of people die every day in the Middle East (conflict). They are silent about it, but suddenly do this when something similar is happening in Europe.”