Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of Scoop.it! Football Finance

Political correctness in South Africa

Posted by John Beech on June 16, 2010

You  wait over a week for a World Cup story to come up on this blog and then three come along almost at once!  This one, the second, has a very direct connection with English football finance.

Nadeem Khan, a member of the South African Liverpool Supporters Club, accompanied by his wife and child, put up a banner at the Germany v. Australia game on Sunday night in Durban among other supporters’ banners (full story here).  About half an hour into the game he was somewhat surprised to see three security officials taking it down – and subsequently it was destroyed by FIFA officials!  His ‘crime’, as in the Click Liverpool report, was identified by FIFA officials that “the flag contravened their rules against obscene or vulgar images being displayed at games, despite no such guidelines existing in FIFA’s ticketing terms and conditions.” The only even remotely relevant prohibitions I can find in the official Fan Guide (p.52) are on racist or xenophobic material and on promotional or commercial material.

Well, judge for yourself (photo link to Click Liverpool site embedded here).

Liverpool fan Ziyaad Hassam outside Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg with the banner

Obscene?  An absurd suggestion.  Vulgar?  Au contraire!  I think it has rather tasteful connotations of nineteenth century trade union banners.

This was plain and simple censorship.  For the extremely heavy-handed handling of Hassam, click through to the full report here.  The same report also mentions two other incidents – “Two Irish fans were threatened with imprisonment for displaying an inoffensive flag during France’s game with Uruguay last Friday whilst Americans were also threatened with jail terms for holding up a banner claiming, ‘Wayne Bridge for USA’ during their clash with England.

I’m afraid I find this approach to fans all too typical of the FIFA way – the naked commercialisation of their activities has led them to lose touch with the fans.  The episode has prompted me to add a Censorship tag to the blog, and retrospectively add it to two previous postings.

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