Mixing politics and sports creates losing formula

Politics and sports must be kept separate, merging the two together creates confliction (Graphic by William Murray ’25)

Politics and sports must be kept separate, merging the two together creates confliction (Graphic by William Murray ’25)

Recent years have seen a rise in political involvement in sports, and while it is certainly important for highly-respected figures to utilize their platform, I believe that politics and sports should be kept apart.

The ongoing FIFA World Cup has sparked great controversy due to it being held in Qatar, a country unfit to be hosting a sporting event like the World Cup. Although Qatar clearly isn’t the best place to host the biggest sporting event in the world due to many questioning their human rights violations and migrant worker manipulation, it is unfair to put the pressure on the players to speak out against the event.

Christian Eriksen, a player who represented Denmark at the competition, spoke out against journalists grilling players with political questions in an interview. “I don’t agree with how it’s happened [the World Cup being held in Qatar] but we’re footballers and we play football,” Eriksen said. “Change has to come from somewhere else.”

Even prior to the World Cup, which officially kicked off on Nov. 20, politics have crept their way into sports from all around the world.

Although Qatar clearly isn’t the best place to host the biggest sporting event in the world due to many questioning their human rights violations and migrant worker manipulation, it is unfair to put the pressure on the players to speak out against the event.”

— William Murray '25

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, FIFA and UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations) made the announcement to suspend all Russian teams, national representative teams or club teams, from competing in FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice.

While taking action against Russia was important during this time, doing it through sports was inappropriate and unfair; because of this, many talented Russian players, who had nothing to do with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, weren’t given the opportunity to play at the world’s biggest soccer stage, the FIFA World Cup.

Don’t get me wrong, incorporating politics into sports can help to convey important messages to the audience. For example, in the 2020 NBA Bubble, players replaced their name on the back of their jersey with social justice messages, like “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Their Names.” However, frequently merging the two together can create an unnatural environment.