Unprofessional Foul


April 29, 2008

Keep Your Politics Out Of My Sport

Sport is generally a sojourn away from the tedium of life. A milieu relatively free from politics, race and religious issues, and all those other “adult”-type things. When those issues do arise in sport, the ripples of the pond seem like tidal waves.

Or, at least it does to me. Which is why Malaysian Muslim groups calling for the exclusion of Chelsea manager Avram Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim on the club’s summer tour is so shocking to me.

Malaysia has no ties with Israel and normally bars Israelis from entering the country, but the home minister decided at the weekend to allow the pair to enter the country, on the grounds they were taking part in a sporting
event, free of politics.

A group of 21 Muslim and non-government groups now want the government to
reverse its decision and has sent a petition to the minister.

“If the Israeli footballers are allowed entry, the government would be seen as being insensitive to the feelings of the Palestinian victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing and atrocities, and the majority of the Malaysians who sympathise with them and support their struggle for justice and peace,” the petition says.

So, the question is whether the Muslim-Israeli relations are better than the Israeli-Israeli relations between Grant and Ben Haim, who said he would not have signed with Chelsea if he knew Grant was going to be the manager. Just think, if Chelsea had known this it could have prevented the wasteful signing of Ben Haim.

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