Power of Sport

20 November 2015 Comments 3

Amongst tragic events that grab the world’s attention, such as what happened in Paris (and Beirut) last week, there are always good things that happen and good people that give solace, courage and hope. You read something, listen to something, watch something – and just say ‘wow’.

I want to share five examples.

The first is Antoine Leiris whose wife, Helene Muyal, was killed in the Balacan Theatre. It took two days for her death to be confirmed. What Antoine did was post a magnificent tribute to his wife on his Facebook page, promising not to let their 17-month-old son grow up in fear of Daesh.

“I will not give you the privilege of hating you,” he wrote. “You want me to be frightened, that I should look into the eyes of my fellow citizens with distrust, that I sacrifice my freedom for security. You lost. I will carry on as before.”

Magnificent. We’re with you Antoine.

One of Australia’s most popular television personalities – and a ‘celebrity Muslim’ in many ways – Waleed Aly took time out on his program The Project TV to address the issue that “ISIL is weak” but they don’t want us to think that. Take a look here:

Powerful. Well done and bravo Waleed.

When the spectators at the France v Germany football friendly at the Stade de France last Friday night were ushered into the bowels of the stadium to ensure their safe evacuation, they spontaneously burst into La Marseillaise. It is one of the most recognisable and stirring national anthems in the world at the best of times, made even more spine-tingling by the circumstance of this rendition.

The safety of the world champions – the German national football team – could not be assured by French authorities last Friday night. They had a bus waiting for them outside, but it wore their logo and German team colours and it was deemed too much of a risk for them to return to their hotel. These multi-millionaire athletes were forced to spend the night on mattresses on the floor of their dressing room at Stade de France.

At 12.26am Paris time on Saturday morning, star Marco Reus tweeted “Just pray … #PrayforParis”

What did the French national team do? They stayed with the German team in an act of tremendous camaraderie demonstrating the pure spirit of true sportsmanship.

Finally, a few nights later, Les Bleus turned-up at Wembley Stadium in London for another international friendly, this time against England. The Patron of the English FA, the Duke of Cambridge, had not intended going to the game but changed his mind after the Paris attacks. Well done, Prince William.

But what really stirred the spirit was what happened when the two sides took the park. Once again, the camaraderie of the players; the tifo from the England home supporters; and the singing of La Marseillaise by the almost-capacity crowd of 90,000 at Wembley. It was loud, it was proud, it was defiant and it was truly magnifique.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth spending five minutes taking a look here.

england-france

In the Charter for FIFA Reform of #NewFIFANow, we state that football “has the power and capacity to unite the world in a way nothing else can.”

These last three examples I gave – spontaneous and planned – by football fans and players demonstrate the truth of that statement. I couldn’t help but be struck by what a contrast their action is to the officials who have had their snouts in the trough for years, or who have sat back and said and done nothing while it goes on around them, and who have brought this magnificent game into disrepute.

It shows the power of football, despite the appalling state of governance. Just imagine how much it could achieve it if was run properly, with the right values and in the true spirit of fair play and sportsmanship, by good women and men.

In the meantime, the last word goes to the French manager of Arsenal – “Life has to be stronger than fear.”

In their different ways, Antoine Seiris, Waleed Aly, football fans and players show us how that is so.

3 comments on "Power of Sport"

  1. Samantha Bailey on 20 November 2015

    Your best ever. Xxx

  2. Skippy on 21 November 2015

    With Int. Ticket Prices ” Sky High ” , how much would it cost Venue Managers to give ALL Spectators a roneo/print copy of the words of BOTH National Anthems , so that ALL can join the refrain ?

    How many that sing in the shower would refuse to join their voice to their neighbours ?

    AS to this blog , i tweeted the following:

    Waleed Aly of The Project TV states “ISIL is weak”! Parisians are the PROOF!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmKpm_9BtHc

    Paris was looking for ways to pass 100 Million Visitors , thanks to the ” pestilence visited on them ” , that target will be exceeded in 2016 !

    How many more times will the riff raff shoot themselves in the foot before they become aware of their ineptitude ?

  3. Skippy on 22 November 2015

    In response to your RT of @Ingsau i ask that you use your influence to encourage AIRLINES to create ” Exercise Areas ” on board to avoid the demise of their Passengers !

    Losing Jonah Lomu must be a massive wakeup call to Any Airline , although in reading http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/neil-francis-on-jonah-lomu-a-life-lost-needlessly-34222682.html
    there is no mention of the Airline he travelled with ? Do we need to know this , since all Airlines SQUEEZE in as many as is allowed ?

    As the manufacturer of ” Socks ” that could be used , i would think that it could be in your remit to canvass the Airlines ?

    Having suffered through Qatar from Munich to Melbourne in October , i was abused by the passenger behind for continually going to the exit door and using that area to do step ups and other exercises . Did he think i was showing off ?

    He complained to staff that i stank , yet the only time he stood up was to use the facilities , yet would bash the back of my seat when i wanted to use the recline position . Judging by his waistline , he was a candidate for DVT !