Soccer has gone woke all over the European Union. Correction: Football bureaucrats in various clubs and continental sports associations have embraced wokeism.
In most of Western Europe the elite considers it politically correct to mimic the American original Black Lives Matter script. Kneeling at games to disrespect the anthem comes together with the customary incantations against racism and colonialism.
Yet, the grassroots in Europe still don’t get it, including in the Intermarium.
In Europe soccer is politics galore. Some of it is quite extreme nationalist. It is partly for that reason, and partly because of the new BLM fashion, that football bureaucrats have attempted to rein in the teams and the fans.
Here comes a brief overview. Germany’s soccer must be the most mellow of them all because the elites there frown upon any display of enthusiasm that they misconstrue as extremism in general and nationalism in particular. From what I recall, Bayern Munich followers are the least inhibited but that’s not saying much by the neutered German standards.
In Scandinavia, soccer is a notch livelier than in Germany; the fans make a modicum of ruckus. However, the elites and the people collude in Denmark’s Faroe Islands, where the authorities maintain conservative propriety from above as mandated by the voters. They banned LGBT symbols in soccer. Wearing one will get you banned from the game.
In the Netherlands, the fans go to town. The detractors of Ajax Amsterdam routinely call its players “Jews” which the athletes embrace enthusiastically (as evidenced also by their white and blue jerseys). Opposing fans sometimes crudely and cruelly yell taunts referring to the Holocaust.
In Italy, it is fascism galore with some clubs. Racist incidents abound with fans making monkey noises at Black players or throwing bananas from the bleachers onto the field to taunt their opponents. Accordingly, sanctions hit AS Roma, Hellas Verona, and A 19 Lazio.
The latter’s players (and fans) not only throw “Roman salutes” at will, but the club has also just signed on Romano Floriani Mussolini, the great grandson of the 20th century fascist dictator.
In Spain the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid, a monarchist and all-Spanish outfit, and FC Barcelona aka “Barca,” a separatist Catalan and leftist team, has taken on legendary proportions. Barca games routinely fuel separatist sentiments and riots just as much as Real playoffs give heart to the advocates of unity and centralization.
England’s soccer hooligans (or Ultras) reached their peak in the 1990s, when they paralyzed stadiums and games as well as brought it on in the streets outside. The authorities eventually learned how to cope, but the fans still can get rowdy.
Any excuse will do. In Scotland, for example, the Scotts Protestant Glasgow Rangers have forever waged a religious war against the Irish Catholic Celtics Glasgow.
Poland’s soccer fans are inveterate and unapologetic anti-Communists and anti-Nazis. The games – before the pandemics – were virtual festivals of patriotism and anti-totalitarianism.
A few weeks ago the Polish national soccer team en bloc refused to take a knee at a game vs. England in London. The Poles explained that, first, Poland had never had any colonies; second, it had itself been partitioned and colonized by Russia, Prussia, and Austria for 123 years; and, third, it had fought against the Nazis and Communists from 1939 to 1989.
About kneeling, their former star goalie, Jan Tomaszewski, put it: “In our history, we had no reason to, why we should do it now?”
So in England the Polish soccer team unabashedly refused to cave in. From Spain through Germany Twitter lit up in support of the Polish footballers. Here’s the wittiest one, arguably: “The Poles kneel only before God or when they get engaged.”
Incidentally, the Czechs ain’t too shabby, either. They also refused to kneel down. During a game against Wales, the Czech national team stood at attention and pointed to a patch on the T-shirts of the players: “Respect.”
The trend may be catching. It has just been resolved that no knee taking for BLM or any other progressive causes will be permitted during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.
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