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The Effects of Football on Politics | My Secret at Heist Blog
The Effects of Football on Politics

The Effects of Football on Politics

Fans watching football

 

Maybe you once saw politicians sitting in the stands at a football (world cup games). Or a politician who ceremoniously opened the Olympic Games with a speech. At major sporting events, you can see at first glance that sports and politics have something to do with each other.

This can also be seen elsewhere, for example in the discussion about the daily sports lesson at school. But the connections go even further. In Austria, the federal government and the federal states determine which sports are promoted (federal government) and how the sport may be practiced (federal states).

The Federal Sports Promotion Act regulates how top-class sports, and junior and popular sports are promoted. The measures in the fight against doping, an unauthorized form of performance enhancement by medical means, are also laid down in the law.

Currently, sport is anchored in the “Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture, Public Sector and Sport” (as of February 2021). But other ministries also deal with the topic of sport, for example, the Ministry of Health.

In Austria, in the field of sports, the laws are enacted in the federal states. For example, they determine which safety precautions must be met when skiing. The interests of sports clubs and sports associations vis-à-vis politics are represented in Austria by the umbrella organization “Sport Austria”.

 

ALSO READ: What is the Relationship Between Politics and Video Games?

 

However, politics does not only influence sports when it comes to subsidies and laws. Major events such as world championships and Olympic Games are popular worldwide, with millions of people watching. Again and again, politicians try to use this for their own purposes. They want to increase their own popularity or distract from unpleasant topics, such as human rights violations in their own country.

Examples of this are the planned 2022 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. China and Qatar are criticized for treating ethnic minorities and guest workers in their own countries. These two groups often have to work in dire conditions without having basic human rights.

You can find more examples of the interplay between politics and sports in the timeline.

On the other hand, sport also influences politics … and society: it can help people feel (more) belonging to their nation and strengthen the sense of community. Especially in young countries, it is easy to observe that sporting successes help to develop a common identity. In Austria, this was the case in the years after the founding of the Second Republic, for example through the successes of Austrian skiers at the Olympic Games.

An international example of the impact sport can have on a country’s politics and society was the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Only a year earlier, Nelson Mandela had been elected President of South Africa in the first free elections. South Africa was a divided nation due to decades of apartheid (the oppression and systematic discrimination of people with dark skin). South Africa surprisingly defeated the team from New Zealand in the World Cup final and won the world championship title.

Mandela’s presentation of the World Cup trophy to the captain of the South African rugby team was a symbolic sign of the rapprochement and reconciliation between people of white and dark skin in the country. Fittingly, there is a quote from the late former South African President Mandela: “Sport speaks a language that politicians do not speak.”

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