Uefa can’t continue to play politics by its own rules

Public expectations of sports and the organisations that run them are changing

 A person waving the rainbow flag runs on the pitch as the players line up for the national anthems before the Germany-Hungary match in Munich at  the Euro Championships. Photograph:  Alexander Hassenstein/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A person waving the rainbow flag runs on the pitch as the players line up for the national anthems before the Germany-Hungary match in Munich at the Euro Championships. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Uefa, a multi-billion euro monopoly that controls one of the most profitable commodities in Europe and wields the influence of a small nation state, is an unlikely champion of the idea that sport and politics don’t mix. European football’s organising body doesn’t actually believe this, of course. It knows the two things are indivisible, and that this is a large part of the sport’s popular appeal.

But it also knows that persisting with the fiction that football takes place in a sterile environment insulated from the world beyond the turnstiles is itself a convenient means of maintaining its most lucrative asset: control. What Uefa really means is: we’ll allow politics, but only on our terms.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.