It’s Just Not Cricket. UK Refuses Peace a Sporting Chance.
There is much talk about ‘british values’ – reputed to be decency, respect, tolerance and fair play – by politicians and the media, and I found myself thinking about these values as I was watching on TV the England football team take on Germany in a friendly match this evening at the new Wembley Stadium. Before kick-off there was the traditional playing of the national anthems, and I was disgusted to hear England fans booing all through the German tune. So much for respect and tolerance!
Earlier today I learnt of the UK governments refusal to grant visas to a group of young Palestinian footballers who had arranged a series of friendlies against teams including Blackburn Rovers, apparently because they were deemed “too poor to be trusted” to return home.
“Tour organiser, Rod Cox, expressed his indignation at the British decision:
“The decision is incredible. Only a few months ago the Foreign Office was considering funding this scheme under the Engagement with Islam programme.
“They recognised that the positive nature of engaging people in sport both in Palestine and in the UK helps to keep young men out of the hands of the gunmen. But the Engaging with Islam programme has been completely terminated, and no grants will be given this year.
“This tour is supported by the English FA; the professional Footballers Association, and was undertaken in Partnership with the University of Chester. Specialist Coaches gave their time freely, and literally hundreds of people have helped.”
Cox continued, “The tour has support groups in Halifax, Bradford, Leeds, London and Liverpool as well as Blackburn and Chester. Many Muslim Charities also financially support it and I cannot see any other outcome than an alienation of all these people from the British Government as a result.
“If even I think this looks like a racially-motivated decision that helps to maintain Israeli Control over Palestinian Muslims, then I am fairly certain that this is the message that will seep through to Britain’s 2 million Muslims.
“It is particularly galling that on the 8th September the Israeli National team will be in the UK to play England without needing visas at all.”“
Yes, there is much talk about “british values” – reputed to be decency, respect, tolerance, and fair play – by politicians and the media, and I found myself thinking tonight that these values are a pile of pish, we can’t even give peace a sporting chance.