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Sports venues shouldn't be political battlefields

People's Daily Online | Updated: 2017-11-29 07:37

Recently, the Chinese under-20 men's soccer team received an insulting slap in the face during a friendly soccer match in Germany, a Chinese-language commentary in People's Daily argued, after the relaxing and friendly game was interrupted by protesters holding "Tibetan independence" flags.

The commentary called it inconceivable that the just act of safeguarding China's national interest was labeled by some German media outlets as an "attack on freedom of expression" and a "suppression of democratic rights." Even more absurd, it pointed out, the head of the German side threatened that the offensive flag would continue to appear at the games.

The commentary asked where the friendship was in the "friendly" games, and wondered who would tolerate turning a sports game into a political assault against national sovereignty. "As a last resort, the Chinese Football Association announced on November 24 that it would postpone China's under-20s soccer team's three friendly games in Germany," it wrote.

"Tibet has been China's territory since ancient times, and the Tibet issue involves China's core interests and the feelings of the Chinese people. It is a well-known that China firmly opposes any country, any organization, or any individual that supports the anti-China separatist activities of ‘Tibet independence' in any and all forms," it said. "Chinese people have every reason to express their dissatisfaction at the bizarre appearance of ‘Tibet independence' forces on the field in Germany. Moreover, the head of the German side should be ashamed," it added.

It noted how regrettable it was that some German media outlets used the insult to rally support for their anti-China cause, and highlighted the "self-contradictory sophistry" of some German media outlets. "In the European stadium, ‘freedom of expression' contrary to ‘political correctness' has never been allowed." In one example, the commentary pointed out that the UEFA Control, Ethics, and Disciplinary Body had imposed a fine on a sports club based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, after some fans waved lone-star flags, a symbol of Catalonia independence, during the UEFA Champions League Final 2015 held in Berlin, Germany.

"May I ask, does Germany allow for freedom of speech in support of Nazis?"

"Faced with the facts, the ‘freedom of speech' of the German media is tantamount to self-policing," it argued, adding that the reaction to China's decision raises concerns about double-standards in the German media.

The People's Daily commentary went on to criticize the German media for being "dominated by people wearing tinted glasses" and wrote that they should "make up the missed lesson, and should let a famous Frenchman do it for them."

The commentary was referring to Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics Games. "O Sport, You are Peace! You forge happy bonds between the peoples by drawing them together in reverence for strength, which is controlled, organized, and self disciplined. Through you the young of the entire world learn to respect one another, and thus the diversity of national traits becomes a source of generous and peaceful emulation!" Coubertin said.

"Coubertin told the true meaning of sports. International sporting events should be an important channel for communicating with people from different countries and safeguarding world peace, and should not be places for challenging international justice and hurting national dignity," the commentary wrote.

"China is a loyal supporter of the Olympic spirit. The country looks forward to sports exchanges and, like the rest of the world, shares the values of self-improvement, justice, and peace. It is the aspiration of the people to return understanding, respect, and friendship to the stadium, and all parties should work together for this purpose," it concluded.


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