From Black Power to Military Salut

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Dhe military salute of Turkish football professionals in the European Championship qualifier against Albania and in France heated up the spirits. Their political commitment to the military use of Turkish forces in northern Syria to combat the Kurdish militia YPG is criticized internationally. A rarity is by no means a political statement forbidden by sports associations.

Time and again, athletes used the public interest in them to stand up for their political beliefs. Well-remembered is NFL American footballer Colin Kaepernick's ostentatious bestowal on the American anthem, provoking President Donald Trump on August 14, 2016, and splitting American society. Kaepernick wanted to protest against racism and police violence against blacks in the United States. “I will not stand up and show pride in a flag that stands for a country that oppresses black and other colored people,” he said.

Football, soccer, athletics

At least with Trump, the favorite sport of Americans is no longer apolitical. For example, professionals at the New England Patriots said they would not make a visit to the White House immediately after winning the Super Bowl this year. Football star Megan Rapinoe used the limelight of the World Cup title in summer to mobilize against abuses and the policies of the American president.

With relatively lenient penalties, the two Swiss granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were taken by the World Federation Fifa at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The two professionals with Kosovan roots had formed with their hands the double-headed eagle, which adorns the flag of Albania.

Model for many: Football star Megan Rapinoe (center)


Already over 50 years ago, the two sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos had come into the limelight and had used the podium at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. And with their historic gesture, they shaped the image of the games of 1968: The 200 -meter winner and the third Olympian stretched their fists at the award ceremony with lowered heads – wrapped in black gloves – in the air. They demonstrated for the “Black Power” movement and protested against the discrimination of the African American population in the United States.

Conversely, politicians have always tried to use sport for their own ends. The best examples are the 1936 Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berlin, which were instrumentalized by dictator Adolf Hitler and his NSDAP to brilliantly portray the Nazi state abroad. While in Germany the Nazi propaganda predominantly emphasized the achievements of the German athletes, the four-time Olympic champion Jesse Owens was mainly ignored because of his skin color of Hitler. The 1952-1972 President of the International Olympic Committee incumbent Avery Brundage found, however, as the boss of the American Olympic team, nothing to celebrate even the Hitler salute.

Political pressure over sport

The Cold War worsened significantly the relationship of both German sports organizations after the Second World War. After numerous eliminations for the occupation of the common German Olympic teams, the teams moved after political tirades behind the German flag with the Olympic rings between 1960 and 1968 in the Olympic arenas, political disputes between East and West characterized the performances of German athletes ,

To exert pressure on sport has always been a welcome political tool in times of systemic conflict. The invasion of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in 1980 seemed to Western countries a suitable argument that their teams stayed away from the Olympic Games in Moscow. The boycott of the East four years later in Los Angeles was the return coach.

But right up to the present, politics has a firm grip on sport. For political reasons, Israel moved in June 2018 a football test match against Argentina from Haifa to Jerusalem, violent protests of the Palestinians were the result. Images with blood-soaked jerseys of Argentina superstar Lionel Messi went around the world. The refusal of the match by the Argentine Federation was acclaimed in Palestine – the sport remained on the track.

The German public, however, moved the affair of Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan last year far more. In the London hotel Four Seasons, the German national players were photographed with the controversial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Erdogan party spread these pictures in the middle of the election campaign. The affair overshadowed the World Cup appearance of the Germans until the resignation Özil, who finally invited Erdogan as a witness to his wedding.

(tagToTranslate) Colin Kaepernick (t) Donald Trump (t) Adolf Hitler (t) Megan Rapinoe (t) Granite Xhaka (t) Xherdan Shaqiri (t) YPG

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