What's up: Values in sport
The first student column of the year is written by a French student Awena Guiner, reflecting on the recent FIFA World Cup and values in sport.
A few weeks ago, the FIFA World Cup was held in Qatar and brilliantly won by Argentina – against my home country France - at the end of a thrilling and unforgettable game. The FIFA World Cup is historically one of the most popular and mediatic event in the world. All around the globe, on every continent, football inspires and brings people together around the common passion of sport.
This year, however, the hosting of the World Cup has been controversial for many. Several supporters decided this time not to follow this emblematic and exciting competition. Maybe you are one of them. Many reasons were raised to justify this “boycott” choice. The human death toll from the construction of the sites is dramatic. The ecological impact of the event is huge, with the construction and the air-conditioning of stadiums in the middle of the desert. Any ambitions to plan a “carbon neutral” event does not erase this total detachment from ecological issues. Finally, the ban on wearing the slightest sign in support of LGBTIQ+ people is another absolute break with the inclusive imperative of sport.
Perhaps it is time to sound the alarm? Sport has always been a mirror of our societies, and as so, it has often been used to lift up our communities. Today, as this new year starts, we have the opportunity, collectively, to reflect on how sport represents us and on how we want to do sport.
Should sport be a tool of division? Is a football stadium – no matter how high profile - more valuable than human lives? Is it acceptable to decide who can and who cannot participate in the collective celebration - depending on who we are, where we come from or who we love?
This World Cup sent a message and held a mirror up to our world and our society. It told us that sport is restricted to some people, and that others have no place in it. It sent a message of division, and lift up of the power of money, all of which is miles away from what actually matters in sport.
My home town’s football club’s supporters decided to boycott the event. These football fans have decided to claim that football – and sport, in general – has greater meaning. No matter the field or the jersey, sport is a way to share, to surpass ourselves, to meet and to make each other better, all together.
Here, as part of the EUSA, young people from all over Europe have the opportunity to debate, to build, to move forward and to make the world a better place – and to promote ecology and human rights as they should be. Sport is a unique and powerful platform to do so. So, to start this year, let’s make a resolution: Let’s all do better, together. That is what sport is all about.
The author Awena Guiner is a Vice-President of the French University Sport Federation (FFSU), member of the EUSA Student Commission and Master's student of social and political sciences at the Sciences Po Toulouse.
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