“The rule of neutrality has become a pretext to silence critics, and not a tool to promote the universality of the values ​​of sport”

Lesports leaders are no exception when it comes to circumventing their own ethical rules, which are supposed to constitute the fundamentals of sport.

These include the rule of neutrality, be it Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter (“no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic venue, site or other location”), or Law 4 of Football (“The equipment must not present any slogan, inscription or image of a political, religious or personal nature. Players are not allowed to display slogans, messages or images of a political, religious, personal or advertising nature on their underwear other than the manufacturer’s logo.).

Remember that in March 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) – the decision-making body for football regulations – accepted the wearing of the hijab by female footballers, on the pretext that it was“a cultural and not a religious sign”thus yielding to the demands of the Iranian federation which nevertheless claimed it as a religious obligation imposed on women in Iran.

The bad example comes from afar

Now, on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the International Football Federation (FIFA) banned in Denmark to train with shirts bearing a message in favor of human rights. Danish Football Federation chief executive Jakob Jensen unsuccessfully argued that this was not a political message, but a universal one. “We have sent a request to FIFA, but the response is negative. We regret this, but we must take this into account”he told Danish news agency Ritzau.

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It must be said that the bad example comes from above, and from afar, without the world of sport having seen fit, at the time, to be moved by it. If the rule of neutrality has not changed, it has long since been circumvented.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was the first to give in to the diktats of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1996, during the Atlanta Olympic Games, by accepting the conditions set by the regime for sending a woman: be veiled from head to toe except for the face. It was Lida Fariman, shooter, and flag bearer of the Iranian delegation: quite a symbol.

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Through this cowardice, the IOC contributed to trivializing the sexual apartheid imposed on women in Iran, and of which we can see, in the light of the events that have shaken the country since the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, the sometimes extreme suffering that this system generates.

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