Mo Salah changing social and political attitudes: Some Liverpool Voices

By Salma Abdalla and Grant Jarvie

Introduction
Few Muslims in British public life and British sporting life have been as open about their Muslim identity. This short evidenced research blog presents a series of voices around a set of themes, primarily Liverpool voices. They are a reflection on the impact of one footballer credited with changing social attitudes to perceptions about Islam in Britain since arriving at Liverpool Football Club in 2017. They resulted from a six-month period of fieldwork during 2017-18.

Athletes as social and political game changers
Mo Salah is part of a significant history of talented sports people who have used the highly visible public platform provided by sport to shed light on a number of social and political causes. A number of athletes have fought and aligned themselves to different social and political causes.

Ten Key Facts:
• Born in Nagrig, in the Gharbia district of Egypt (10% of people live in poverty).
• Salah’s football journey has included El Mokawloon Basle, Chelsea, Fiorentina and Roma.
• 2017 joins Liverpool Football Club for £36.9 million.
• In October 2017, Salah scored the penalty that sent Egypt to their first World Cup finals in 28 years.
• Stanford Study reports a reduction in hate crime in Liverpool, dropping by 18.8%. since Salah the club.
• Scored the opening goal in the Champions League Final
• The Salah effect linked to changing attitudes towards Muslims on Merseyside.
• Has supported struggles for women in Egypt stating that We need to change the way we treat women in our culture”.
• 2019 Times 100 list of influential people.
• Salah has maintained a close relationship with his family, neighbours and friends in Nagrig. He nurtures this relationship by supporting various development projects in village, ranging from youth centres to schools and hospitals.

Effect on Muslims as a source of pride and belonging:
“I think he has made the Muslim community in Liverpool and across the globe very proud. He has been a torchbearer of our faith in difficult times. He has broken many different barriers related to Islamophobia” (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 1).

“My obsession or pride towards him isn’t because he is Mo Salah, my pride is because he is a Muslim doing amazing in the game and I love the fact that the second he does something wrong white people will jump to protect him” (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 2).

“I am not a football fan but now Salah makes us talk about football. We feel proud and we show our support for him (Non-Football Muslim 1).

“Salah is showing that there’s avenue within sport and that you can do that as a Muslim and as an Arab, which is changing perceptions of local communities (Female Muslim football Fan 1).

Changing perceptions:
“He has changed the many different negative perceptions that people hold about the Muslim community and Muslim players (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 1).

“I don’t know if he has made convers to Islam but he has opened people up to thinking about Islam in a different way…” (Non-Football Muslim 2).

“I think Salah challenges perceptions of what a Muslim is in Britain at this point in time” (Female Football Fan 2).

Wide acceptance and personality:
“Perhaps it comes down to success and I think regardless of a player’s background, religion, ethnicity, if you’re bringing your club success then fans are going to get behind you… (Female Football Fan 2).

“They footballers make millions and while Salah never speaks about it – he wants to do charity, he wants to do things for the community and he acts as a normal human being – he can make an impact because he is all about family, love of community and people in Liverpool relate to him” (Male Football Fan 4).

“He is experienced at being a Muslim or Islamic …. People are aware of the way it is talked about but he manages to do it in a way that is completely non-threatening” (Male Football Fan 5)

Celebrating faith:
“He is unapologetically Muslim, the beard, the prostration, the hand in the air and his name is Mohammed.. it is all of these things and on top of that he is a brilliant footballer” (Male Football Fan 2).

Context:
Most respondents agreed that the context, the place and the rise of Salah in Liverpool cannot be ignored.

“Liverpool is quite inclusive in that aspect and they seem to tie together as a family because of historical things that they kind of experienced together , their anthem you’ll never walk alone has a kind of encompassing feeling” (Female Football Fan 2).

Jurgen Klopp:
“It’s fantastic it is exactly what we need in these times .. To see this wonderful young man, full of joy, full of love, full of friendship, full of everything in a world where we struggle to understand all the things happening on the planet”

“Mo is a very smart person and his role is very influential. In the world at the moment, it is very important that you have people like Mo”

Conclusion.
The qualitative voices presented here add to some of the quantitative empirical work around what many are calling the off-field Salah effect. The voices talk to the impact of the player in Liverpool but equally a number of commentators have also reflected upon the impact of the footballer upon an Egyptian youth looking for role models.

Cothroman, ceistean is cunnartan do chamanachd nam ban.

The Camanachd Cup, pictured on the centre spot at Mossfield Park, Oban.

By 

Ùisdean Macillinnein

Le Cupa Ball-coise na Cruinne do bhoireannaich air soirbheachadh cho math san Fhraing an 2019, tha aire an t-saoghail air gluasad gu spòrs bhan ann an dòigh nach robh duine air sùileachadh, fiùs bliadhna air ais. Agus le buidhnean leithid FIFA agus buidhnean nàiseanta a-nis mothachail gur e slighe malairteach a tha ron earrann sin dhen ghèam as motha air feadh an t-saoghail, chan eil teagamh nach tig leudachadh agus leasachadh gu math nas sgiobalta air a h-uile taobh dhen ghèam do na boireannaich.

Chan eil an raon romhpa uile gu lèir cho rèidh sin ged-tha, ged a tha an saoghal do bhall-coise nam ban gu math nas gleansach agus nas tarraingiche an-diugh na bha e mus do thòisich Farpais na Cruinne. Leanaidh an geam an t-airgid, chionn tha FIFA agus buidhnean nàiseanta mothachail a-nis gur fhaodadh gum bi sruth airgid ann dhaibh fhèin an-lùib an leasachaidh, agus bidh na cluicheadairean iad fhèin, mar a dhearbh boireannaich an USA, gu math mothachail air an luach fhèin anns an t-sroillich feuch cò as motha a gheibh an cothrom air an sporran.

Tha sin ceart gu leòr do bhoireannaich a tha ri ball-coise ged a tha ceistean gu leòr ann fhathast mu chiamar a dhèiligeas na dùthachan beaga (a thaobh àireamhan chluicheadairean) leithid Alba ri cùisean. Ach a bheil, gu fìrinneach, an dealbh cho buileach gleansach agus gealltainneach do spòrs nam ban? Agus gu sònraichte `s dòcha do mhean-spòrs leithid camanachd far a bheil na h-àireamhn buileach nas lugha?

Mus coimhead sinn air an t-suidheachadh a’ dol air adhart, tha e feumail coimhead air càite an robh camanachd nam ban anns na bliadhnaichean a chaidh, can fiùs 10, 20 gun tighinn air 50 bliadhna air ais.

Nam biodh duine air a ràdh rium fhèin anns na seachdan anns an Oilthigh an Glaschu, far nach boireannach faisg air na geamaichean againn mur robh iad ri suirighe, gum biodh camanachd nam ban far a bheil e an-diugh, cha robh mi air facal a chreidsinn.  Geamaichean beò air an telebhisein (air seirbheis Ghàidhlig cuideachd) le structuran nàiseanta, fiùs aon bhoireannach na rèitire air geamaichen nam fear, agus cloinn-nighinn gu math tric a’ nochdadh an co-ionnannachd ri gillean agus fireannaich ann an geamaichean àbhaisteach.

Ri mo latha sa, a’ dol air ais gu m’fhìor òige, cha robh boireannaich nam pàirt de chamanachd ann an dòigh sam bith ach ris an iomall, a’ dèanamh an tì ma bha iad idir ann, agus a’ frithealadh leithid thiocaidean, raffles is eile.  Beag air bheag ged tha, fiùs anns na 70-an, agus an saoghal mòr ag atharrachadh, thòisich an crathadh, ged nach tàinig a’ chrith-thalmhainn a bha cuid a’ muigheadh, fiùs le fealla-dha.

Ma `s math mo chuimhne bha Liz NicAonghais (à Steòrnabhagh bho thùs, gu h-inntinneach) am measg a’ chiad bhoireannaich a nchd ann an saoghal follaiseach na camanachd, agus còmhla rithe thàinig leithid Donnella Crawford mu dheas. Ged nach robh iad a’ cluich, agus chan aithne dhomh cho fada air ais ri sin gu robh cluich sam bith a’ dol ach corra gheam spòrsail agus fealla-dha, `s ann ann an rianachd a’ ghèaim a rinn na boireannaich sin an slighe air adhart. Bha iad an sàs ann an comataidhean nàiseanta, agus le Donna gu sònraichte ann an saoghal nan sgoiltean far an robh grunn luchd-teagasg bho àm gu àm a’ cuideachadh ann an sgoiltean. Ach `s e saoghal nam fear a bha an saoghal na camanachd. Agus leis an eachdraidh a th’aig a’ ghèam agus an suidheachadh sòisealta a bha a’ riaghladh air feadh na Gàidhealtachd gu h-eachdraidheil, cha bu chòir sin a bhith na iongnadh.

Ged a bha stroillich gu leòr anns na 70-an am measg bhoireannaich nach robh iad a’ faighinn cothrom na fèinne ann an saoghal na camanachd – agus tha irisean Leabhair Bhliadhnail na Camanachd an “Shinty Yearbook” na dhearbhadh air sin, thug e còrr math is fichead bliadhna gus an do thòisich an siol a chaidh a chur sna 70-an a’ fas.

`S ann mu thionndadh na linne a thàinig cùisean gu ceann agus am follais le gèamaichean a’ tòiseachadh ann an grunn sgìrean – mun Òban , Gleann na Garadh is eile, agus sradag bheag a’ beòthachadh an sud san seo.  Bha na sgiobaidhean sin an ìre mhath uile an crochadh air aon neach no dha a bha gam putadh agus gam misneachadh agus mar a thòisich an gluasad `s ann a bu dhàine a thòisich na boireannaich a’ dol an sàs ann an cluich.

Ach bha gu leòr nan aghaidh – “Watch Out Boys, Revolution’s in the Air as Shinty Widows Stage a Takeover”,  sgrìobha Liz MacInnes, a bha aig an àm na Rùnaire air sgioba Inbhir Nis agus air comadaidhean eile.  “Many of the men treat us as a joke,” thuirt i, “and are loathe to listen to our opinions.”  Cha robh e fada agus an do thòisich a’ chuibhle a’ dol mun cuairt.

Bha aon shuidheachadh eile a chuidich leis a’ ghluasad seo agus am fàs, agus gu n-annasach `s e crìonadh a bh’air cùl chùisean.  Bha àireamhan sgoilearan ann am bun-sgoiltean air feadh na Gàidhealtachd, agus ann an sgìrean far am bu dual camanachd a’ crìonadh – ceangailte gu math tri cri cion-cosnaidh ann an sgìrean.   Leis sin, bha e a’ faireachdainn air cuid de sgoiltean sgiobaidhean a chur a-mach ann am farpaisean gus an do thuig iad gun gabhadh sgiobaidhean a thoirt còmhla nam biodh gillean agus clann-nighean gan cur còmhla.

Bha cuideachd gluasadan am measg oileanaich a bha a’ lorg rudan agus spòrs ùr mar phairt de dh’atharraichean sòisealta eile agus miann co-ionnannachd. Chan e mhàin gu do thòisich boireannaich (òga) a’ nochdadh, ach thachair seo aig àm far an robh an gèam a’ sgaoileadh gu sgìrean ùra leithid Dhun Phàrlain agus Fiobha, bha sgioba Mheadhan-Earra-Ghàidheil an Glaschu, le corra bhan-Eireannach nam measg, cuideachd gu math taiceil agus thug sgioba Dhunadd ann an Ceann LochGilp impidh do chùisean bho 1995, agus leis sin cuideachd thòisich cuid de na meadhanan a’ gabhail aire de na bha a’ tachairt. Aig àmanan bha sin ann an dòighean a bha car fanaideach ach rè ùine, mar a thòisich boireannaich a’ nochdadh ann an suidheachain spòrs eile, (agus mar a thòisich an lagh agus beachdan dhaoine ag atharrachadh, sdòcha), shiollaidh sin air falbh.

Tha cùisean gu math eadar-dhealaichte a-nis, ged nach eil a h-uile càil an òrdugh no mar bu mhiann le cuid. Tha astar an fhàs a’ sìor thogail agus chaidh an àireamh de bhoireannaich a tha a’ cluich aig ìre inbheach suas bho 224 ann an 2015 gu 423 an uiridh; am measg chloinn-nighean òga chaidh na h-àireamhan suas 122 gu 337 aig an aon àm.  Tha a-nis 20 buidheann bhan a’ cluich camanachd le glè fhaisg air 36 sgioba fa-leth a’ cluich aig diofar ìrean.  `S dòcha gur ann ans an Eilean Sgitheanach a bu luaithe a tha am fàs an deidh dhaibh sgioba a’ stèidheachadh ann an 2011.

San fhichead bliadhna a dh’fhalbh, tha camanachd nam ban air tighinn gu ìre far a bheil dithis bhoireannach air Bord-stiùiridh Chomann na Camanachd, tha na h-àimhrean cluiche a’ sìor dhol am meud, tha sgiobaidhean nam fear air gabhail ri na boireannaich mar phàirt chudromach dhan ghèam agus airidh air taic, ged nach do nochd fhathast ach aon bhoireannach na rèitire air geamaichean nam fear gu cunbhallach.

An uiridh an 2018, chaidh a’ chuairt dheireannach de Chupa Chamanachd nam Ban, Cupa Valerie Fhriseil, a chraoladh beò air BBC Alba le na ceudan an làthair an Ceann a’ Ghiùthsaich agus bana-rèitire a’ riaghladh. A’ cluich sa ghèam sin bha aon bhoireannach, Kirsty Deans, a bhoinneas do Cheann a’ Ghiùthsaich,  a nochd seachdain an deidh sin ann an geam beò eile air an TV agus i a’ cluich ball-coise.  Chaidh i air adhart bhon sin gu bhith air a h-ainmeachadh mar sgiobair air sgioba chamanachd Alba a’ cluich an Eireann agus chaidh a h-ainmeachadh mar neach spòrs na bliadhna air a’ Ghàidhealtachd le pàipear naidheachd na sgìre, am Press & Journal.

Agus thas Kirsty chòir na sàmhla air a’ ghèam san fharsaingeachd, na cothroman, na ceistean na cunnartan. Mar neach teagaisg PE tha i eòlach gu leòr air spòrs agus air a tarraing eadar diofar spòrs. Agus sin a’ cheist mhòr a- nis. Le leithid rugbaidh nam ban agus ball-coise nam ban a’ sìor leudachadh agus a’ fàs nas proifeiseanta, a bheil camanachd gu bhith ann an suidheachadh na boireannaich a chumail aca fhèin, neo an tòisich iad a’ sruthadh air falbh gu spòrs eile.

Tha a h-uile coltas ann an dràsta gu bheil impidh an casan na camanachd agus ma thèid aig Comann na Camanachd fhèin air suidheachadh nam ban a dhaingneachadh ann an riaghladh agus ro-innleachd a’ ghèaim, sdòcha, dìreach sdòcha, gu bheil saoghal ùr romhainn.  Tha sinn pìos math air chùlaibh gèam na h-Éireann ach tha gu leòr an sin as urrainn dhuinn ionnsachadh.  Ach tha aon rud cinnteach, mura freagair sinn na ceistean agus mura gabh sinn na cothroman, leanaidh na cunnartan.

Ùisdean Macillinnein

Fresh winds for equity in the beautiful game but challenges remain

By Grant Jarvie – University of Edinburgh 

Almost four years ago the Academy of Sport was invited to contribute to the then calls for reform in world soccer and support for women’s soccer. A summary of the contribution can be found here. The case for support focused upon two key themes. Firstly, that women were under-represented in decision making in world soccer and secondly that women’s football was under-resourced.

At the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup held France a panel of experts on the women’s game both domestically and internationally gathered at the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Sport to both celebrate women’s soccer and reflect upon lessons and observations on the beautiful game.

Ebru Koksal one of only two women to have been the CEO of a Champions League Football Club and current chair of women in football championed the case for being bold for change.

2019 World Cup finance and equal pay
The 2019 World Cup is the first where the clubs will be compensated for releasing their players. Another gap closed in principle. The total FIFA input of £39 million is more than three times the amount made available for Canada in 2015. The total prize fund at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was more than £300 million. Lessons need to be learned in relation to how the Women’s World Cup rights are commercialised.

England’s Toni Duggan believes that the players should be paid more but not the same as men. Most of the professional women players with the big clubs in England will be on six-figure salaries. This is more than many SPFL men players and yet equality for Duggan is as much about pitches, facilities and parity of esteem. In Europe fans are much more open to supporting the club rather than the fact that it is the men or women’s team playing. In 2019 Duggan finished her second season with Barcelona and played in front of the then league record crowd of 60,739.

The five majors
The CIES 2019 demographic analysis of five major women’s football leagues (England, Germany, Sweden, France and the USA all of whom reached the quarter finals in France) can be found here. It concluded that the economic development occurring at the top of the pyramid of women’s professional football indicates that the age of players tends to increase as international mobility grows and that the concentration of the best footballers within a limited number of clubs in the best leagues remains concentrated in these five countries.

From the players playing in France 2019 Canada is the country with the biggest contingent of expatriate players in the championship with a total of 28. Canadians are particularly numerous in the United States with the National Women’s Soccer League, the majority of Scottish women head for England while half of the expatriate American’s play in Sweden.

Challenges and opportunities
Whether it be the domestic of international front fresh winds for more equity in the beautiful game are being called for. Along with challenges come opportunities argued Ebru Koksal. The UEFA women’s football strategy talks of : Doubling the number of women and girls playing football in UEFA’s member associations to 2.5 million; Changing the perceptions of women’s football across Europe; Doubling the reach and value of the UEFA Women’s EURO and the UEFA Women’s Champions League; Improving player standards by reaching standard agreements for national team players and putting safeguarding policies in place in all 55 member associations and doubling female representation on all UEFA bodies.

Progress but challenges remain.
At the first World Cup in 1991 the gender split of the coaches was 11 (men) and 1 (woman) while in France men continued to dominate 16 to 8.

The USA ranked number one in the world going into the tournament sees US soccer involved in a lawsuit accused of gender discrimination. 28 members of the USA World Cup Soccer squad filed the lawsuit on 8 March 2019 alleging institutionalised gender discrimination that included inequitable compensation when compared to their male counterparts in the USA.

Norway entered the tournament without Ada Hegerberg , the first female Ballon d’Or winner, who stepped away from the National team in 2017 because of the perceived or otherwise lack of disregard for women’s football in Norway.

Domestic insights
Domestically it was the first World Cup that Scotland had qualified for since 1998. The country has arguably witnessed a culture shift with taxi drivers talking excitedly about the game in a country that has no full-time professional league that women can play in.

Between 2015 and 2019 the number of registered female players in Scotland has risen to about 14,000. 6.1 million viewers watched Scotland v England. 18,555 attended the Scotland v Jamaica build up game at Hampden Park just prior to the World Cup – a record crowd for a women’s game at Hampden. The average attendance at women’s football matches in Scotland is about 1500.

Commentators on the women’s game regularly point to the fact that it is a cleaner and easier product to sell – no gambling, no alcohol sponsorship and not troubled by sectarianism.

Laura Montgomery, co-founder of Glasgow City, the most successful women’s team to date in Scotland and who according to Rachel Corsie – Scotland’s Captain has done more than anyone to advance the game for women and girls in Scotland also joined the University of Edinburgh discussion and provided a real insight into the challenge to grow and sustain the women’s game in Scotland while not compromising on the quality of input.

Significantly she asked where would the women’s game in Scotland be now if it had not been banned?

Leeann Dempster CEO of Hibernian Football Club talking about the state of the women’s game in Scotland sees it as getting stronger but that does not mean that it is strong as it should be. For the CEO key questions remain:

• How do we fund the growth of the women’s game in Scotland?
• How do we bring in the commercial rewards it deserves?
• Who takes responsibility for the women’s game in Scotland? Where does it sit? Who takes the lead?

Concluding comment
Football, soccer remains one of the most visible areas of public life in many countries. The 50 page review of women’s football published just prior to the 2019 World Cup suggested that fresh winds of equity were blowing but that significant challenges remain- see here. Such a visible are of public life brings with it responsibilities for forging and enjoying the benefits that gender equality and diversity brings with and through soccer.

Who is on board in Scottish sport?

By Isabelle Boulert, Josh Emerson and Grant Jarvie
University of Edinburgh

Scotland could do more to end all white boards in sport.

Key Facts:

• An audit of Scottish sports boards (N=82) carried out between 2017-2018
• Composition of Scottish sports boards 99.5% white and 0.5% people of colour
• Availability of Board data – 10% no data.
• Chairs of Scottish Sports Boards 100% white and 0% people of colour
• 3 people of colour as board members out of 558 board members

The research findings presented acknowledges that the use of all encompassing terms to explain diversity in Scotland hides the richness of diversity in Scotland today.

That being said the findings from the review of Scottish sports boards evidences for the first time the fact that people of colour are under-represented in the decision making roles in sport in Scotland.

There is not just a social and political imperative for Scottish sports boards to be more representative of Scottish communities but a substantial body of evidence demonstrates that having diverse boards boosts recruitment, retention and productivity while reducing risk.

Nor is the lack of diversity on Scottish sports boards an issue that is unique to Scotland or sport. The 2017 Parker Review of Ethnicity and Diversity on UK Boards reported that only 2 per cent of all FTSE 100 board directors are UK citizens of colour, while the non-white population was 14 per cent and set to rise 20 per cent by 2030.

Only six people of colour held the position of Chair or Chief Executive while 51 of the FTSE 100 companies did not have any non-white people on Board.

Increasing participation and representation from under-represented groups in sport remains an urgent and complex issue that permeates the sports system. While there are many examples of remarkable initiatives enabling equality and diversity in and through sport there remains many areas where progress has to be made and where a co-ordinated and collaborative approach could lead to significant improvements.

Scotland’s diverse and ageing population has much to offer sport. From volunteers and coaches to being Board members, there are people with a wealth of knowledge and experience to be passed on to the next generation and the notion of their not be enough capable and qualified non-white applicants needs to be rejected.

Leadership in Scottish Sport needs to be much more innovative and pro-active to ensure it is representative and reflective of Scottish people and communities.

Leadership positions and boards in Scottish Sport are almost entirely white. The cost of accessing sport and facilities remains a significant barrier with sport being available to those from wealthier backgrounds. Many sports still have a gender imbalance while recognising that much progress has been made. The disability sports voice needs to be represented more.

Successful societies are inclusive societies and sport can act as a way to help bring communities together, if it becomes more inclusive at all levels.

The evidence does not discount the steps that have been accomplished to advance equality and reduce inequality gaps in Scottish sport but it does suggest that when Scottish sport boards tend to recruit to leadership positions this tends to result in, primarily if not exclusively in many cases, all white Scottish sports boards.

eSports Diplomacy: From Threat To Opportunity

By Dr Stuart Murray and Dr James Birt 

Bond University – Australia 

Have you heard about the big sports competition taking place in Melbourne, culminating in the final on Sunday evening? No, we’re not talking about the Australian Open (Mens) Final, but the Fortnite Summer Smash, a competition bringing 500 eSports aces from sports, entertainment and video gaming together to battle it out for AU$500,000 in prize money. Whether or not you know about eSports you’ve probably heard about Fortnite. 

Fortnite is the world’s most profitable game, with a record US$3 billion profit in 2018, an indicative of the mass stampede towards eSports, a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems. The term describes a rapidly evolving area of media, competition and industry disruption formed around video games played competitively for spectators.

Game On – It’s the billion-dollar industry taking over the world – we talk all things eSports with Aussie team the LG @DireWolves, #TheProjectTV

Within the Australian context eSports has seen nearly 50% growth in the past two years specifically amongst males and 18-34 year olds. eSporting tournament viewership has already surpassed that of traditional sports broadcasting. This represents a significant market opportunity for not only broadcast companies but also governments, companies and individuals to engage, inform and create a favourable image among younger demographics connected to eSports.

Not without its controversy, Fortnite is now taking centre court just before the men’s tennis final at the Australian Open, shifting the focus of Australian sporting passion from physical on court to screen based battle royal.

Read more: eSports are shifting the focus of Australia’s sporting passion

Fortnite to land at Australian Open 2019 – Kathleen “Loserfruit” Belsten

Such an event is not unique. Rather the partnership between Epic Games and the Australian Open is symbolic of many other traditional sports teaming up with eSports providers, players, and fans. Including Formula One and the F1 eSports Series, FIFA and the FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 and NBA and the NBA2K League.

From a traditional sporting perspective, opening up once hallowed sporting arenas to eSports is about creating new markets, reaching out to the younger demographic, and trying to stay relevant in an era where stadia are emptying, participation in real sports is declining and Australia’s once mighty international sporting footprint is diminishing.  For the eSports crowd, such partnerships generate legitimacy and are aimed at winning over the puritans and their traditional arguments: this isn’t real sport! Surely people should be playing games outside, not inside! What’s wrong with the real world (versus the virtual)?!

These, and other trends, stand to stymie any positive developments from the inexorable rise of eSports. Moreover, such partnerships have, so far, been almost exclusively governed by commerce, dollars, market share, ‘eyeballs’ (audience), and fragmented leagues. Like the uber-game, Red Dead Redemption 2, it all has the feel of an unsustainable, Wild West gold rush. In such a rapacious, confusing and polemic environment, many of the potential benefits from using eSports as a means to positive outcomes are lost, or being ignored or, as we contend, have simply not been contemplated and this is where diplomacy comes in.

Yes, diplomacy. At the very mention of the word stereotypes flood the mind, of debonair diplomats operating in secret, cloistered embassies, gorging on canapes and pink champagne, and cutting ill-founded, anachronistic deals that would make Machiavelli turn in his Florentine grave. Such images are, of course, nonsensical (and only partly true!). In addition, they describe a job, not the word. The state, we must remember, does not have a monopoly on diplomacy, particularly, in the plural, twenty-first century.

At its very simplest, the word diplomacy describes a series of processes: the proverbial means to an end, or ends. It is an ancient, civil and – ideally – peaceful institution that tries to promote comity over estrangement, peace over conflict, and mutually reciprocal, win-win outcomes over their antecedents. Diplomacy also bears remarkable similarity to another ancient device aimed at bringing strangers closer together: sport. Such synergies and innovative ideas helped form the young but growing field of studies know as Sports Diplomacy, the strategic, networked use of sport to build relationships between people, nations and sporting organisations in the pursuit of enhanced, mutually reciprocal trade, tourism, education, participation, development, and foreign policy outcomes.  It’s not just theory: the Australian, Japanese, and French Governments have all recently developed Sports Diplomacy strategies, as has the European Commission.

But what’s all this got to do with playing Fortnite outside Margaret Court Arena? Quite simply, the concept of sports diplomacy can be applied, or extended, to eSports, ushering in a new term: eSports diplomacy. In other words, it is time to ask how eSports can be strategically used as means to a series of positive social and diplomatic outcomes (not just dollars, markets and eyeballs)?

Thinking about eSports diplomacy creates immediate benefit. For sporting puritans, and hard as it may be to believe, eSports diplomacy can be used to increase participation in traditional physical sports (the long, storied and continuously painful love of real golf for one of the authors began with a university addiction to PGA Golf on the Sega Megadrive). Indeed, eSports should be integral to the sort of future envisaged in Sports 2030, a document created by Sport Australia (formerly the AIS) which “provides a roadmap for future success for sport in this country.” Remarkably, eSports doesn’t get one mention in this visionary but slightly dated eighty-page document (sorry, folks, but we have to move on from Cathy Freeman, Sydney and 2000). Federal and state governments need to realise sport and eSports can co-exist amicably, symbiotically even.

Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie launches the Sport 2030 nation-wide campaign

For the eSports mob, thinking diplomatically would give them greater strategic direction, common goals to pursue, capacity to negotiate with established players, as well as order, and unity. Clearly, the positive messages about eSports are not getting through, or, more accurately, are being delivered and embodied by gamers, entrepreneurs and fans. For many, eSports continue to be a threat, not an opportunity. The trials and tribulations of trying to get eSports into the 2024 Paris Olympics are a case in point. What, or whom, does eSports actually represent? An industry? A sport? What key messages are they communicating? How do they gather and disseminate information? Are they any good at negotiation? And can eSports bring people closer together, and minimize friction between increasingly estranged people, communities and nations? These are all core diplomatic functions, according to the great Australian diplomacy scholar Hedley Bull, and can be applied to the sort of old and new actors that now constitute our political, social and sporting systems.

The Fortnite Summer Smash, alongside many other examples, confirms that eSports is here to stay. Thinking ahead, the questions for theorists and practitioners are simple: how can eSports transform its image from that of threat to opportunity? And, working in tandem with traditional codes, attitudes, and policies, how can eSports be used as a means to positive, social outcomes in health, inclusivity, sport and general physical and mental wellbeing? In an era of “less social cohesion”, as Hugh MacKay stated in his Australia Day Address, such questions now take on urgent importance.

As was the case with the real gold rushes it pays to remember that only a few prospectors struck it rich. The folks that sold the shovels, picks and pack animals were the ones who made the real money. As such, and tapping into the so-called egalitarian nature of the digital era, the challenge is to turn the eSports rush into something sustainable, positive and meaningful; something that adds value to our society, relationships, bodies, minds and souls.

 

Sporting Biographies of Scottish Women

By Grant Jarvie 

Celebrating Scottish Sporting Women on St Andrew’s Day 

Between 2006 and 2018 we have carefully researched, edited and helped to produce a number of entries within the 1st and 2nd editions of The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Here we celebrate the contribution of Scottish Sporting Women by releasing just some of the entries that our researchers have worked on (in alphabetical order) 

Arran, countess of n Fiona Bryde Colquhoun born Luss, 20 July 1918, died Castle Hill Devon 16 May, 2013. Daughter of Sir Ian Colquhoun of Luss (1887-1948) and Geraldine Bryde (1889-1974). Became Countess of Arran upon marriage on 11 June 1937 to Arthur Strange Gore the 8th Earl of Arran (1910-1983) with who she had 2 sons.

She was introduced to powerboat speed in 1932, aged 13. Her career spanned 15 years (1965-1980). Her first race being at Iver (1965). As the sole woman competitor in the 1966 Paris 6 hours circuit marathon on the Seine, she finished 14th out of 90. In: 1969 she set a record of 55mph in the Cornish 100; 1972 the Class 1 speed record of 55mph at Lake Windermere; 1979 the Class 2 World Record of 93mph and a world record of 102 mph in 1980 at the age of 62. She retired in 1981 the same year she became the first women to be awarded the Segrave Trophy.

She made a brief comeback in 1989 and helped to produce and pilot an electronically propelled hydroplane achieving a silent and environmentally friendly record of 50.825mph at the age of 71.

Buried at Luss, she regularly wore some item of Colquhoun tartan and remained a staunch supporter of Loch Lomond and the surrounding area.

Fuchs, Eileen Margaret Knowles born Ashford, Middlesex 30 May 1920, died Grantown on Spey 11 January 2013 and Jamieson Hilda born Dundee 12 August 1913, died 12 May 2016.

Both women contributed greatly to Scottish Skiing.

Eileen was educated at Croydon High School for Girls and Newnham College, Cambridge where she studied history from 1938-1942.

She travelled to Vienna (1953) to study the violin and met and married Karl Fuchs, an Austrian Olympic Skier.

In 1954 they purchased Struan House Hotel in Carrbridge and founded the Austrian Ski School. For 30 years they helped to pioneer skiing in the Cairngorms. She and her husband were referred to as the mother and father of Scottish skiing.

Her son Peter competed for Great Britain in the Winter Olympic Games (1976).

They sold Struan House in 1984 and after Karl’s death in 1980 Eileen moved to Grantown-on-Spey. She inaugurated the Karl and Peter Fuchs Memorial Fund for the benefit of young Speyside skiers.

Hilda Jamieson along with her husband developed the Glenshee Ski Centre.

Fondly referred as Britain’s oldest skier she was Dundee ladies champion, the Scottish ladies champion and a stalwart member of the Dundee Tennant Trophy Team.

Many of her children and grand-children became Scottish Champion skiers with one of her daughters competing at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games.

Skilled at other sports notably tennis, golf and swimming Hilda exercised throughout her life, taking her last swim aged of 102.

And yet it was Skiing in which she excelled with one obituary describing her as quite possibly’ Scotland’s, the UK’s and possibly the world’s oldest active skier’.

Hamilton, Helen n Elliot, born Edinburgh 20 January 1927, died Perth 12 January 2013.She was 16 years old when she first played table tennis but became the first Scot to win a major World Table Tennis title and as of 2016 remains the only Table Tennis inductee into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame

Her career started at Dalry First Aid Post, moved on to Murrayfield and she then established a long association with the Gambit Club.

Helen Elliott won: 2 World titles; World Championship medals in three consecutive years (1952-1955); singles championship titles in Ireland Wales, England, Belgium, Germany and Scotland; the English Open title in 1949, 1950 and 1958 and the Scottish Open, first in 1946 then for a further 13 consecutive years.

She spent many years developing the game in Scotland, and served many national and international Table Tennis organisations. She, coached at Summer Table Tennis Camps throughout the UK, served as Honorary President of Scottish Table Tennis Association and was nominated President of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation in 1997 and 2005.

Newstead, Isabel n Barr born Glasgow 3 May, 1955, died Harlow 18 January 2007.A Paralympian who won 14 medals across three sports during a 24-year Olympic career (1980-2004).

Newstead grew up in Renfrewshire and enjoyed success as a county swimmer. A flu virus caused an injury to her spinal cord and lead to tetraplegia – partial or complete paralysis of all four limbs. Her rehabilitation programme included swimming and in 1975 she enrolled at Port Glasgow Otters. Her determination to cope with her disability was noted by Britain’s paraplegic team members and that connection propelled her on the road to 25 years of international endeavour.

By: 1984 Newstead had won nine Olympic medals; 1988 she had been selected for the Paralympic Games in Seoul where she won four medals; 2000 a new world-record score had been set in Sydney and in The Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 she won a gold medal in the women’s air pistol.

Awarded an MBE in the 2000 New Year Honour’s list, Isabel was the first high performance disabled athlete to be inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.

Jarvie Margaret n Bolton born 20 January 1928 Motherwell, died 15 April 2004 Edinburgh.

One of only 2 women to win all Scottish swimming championship titles from 50 -1000 yds. She was part of Motherwell Ladies Relay Team described by the press (1942) ‘as the finest team of speedsters in Scottish swimming history’.

From 1944-48 she held Scottish senior titles breaking the Scottish breast stroke record in 1945. The Lanarkshire Olympians featured her and David Jarvie (husband) as part of an aquatic team that amassed 4 world, 47 British and 172 Scottish records (1936-1960).

She recalled being lodged with a wealthy family for a gala thinking “Why can my parents not live like this?” Her sense of political awareness developed and continued into encouraging disadvantaged people into higher education, providing free counselling to prostitutes, being invited to work with radical groups at Ruskin College and adopting Colin, one of the earliest non-white adoptions into an all white family in 1960’s Scotland. She lived The Swimming Club philosophy that everyone was equal

An obituary attributed ‘among the mothers of counselling in Scotland pride of place to Margaret Jarvie’ and described her as ‘one of the agents of the transition over fifty years of women’s position’.

The Hampden Case

By

Grant Jarvie
University of Edinburgh

The Scottish Football Association decided to stay at Hampden and in this short review we consider some of the evidence, arguments and background to the decision.

While the costs of the Hampden v Murrayfield cases were different the final judgement may not have been just about economic costs but social, cultural, community and financial assets and voices that all needed to be listened too.

Prior to the decision The Scottish Football Association (SFA) rented the 115-year old ground from its Queen’s Park owners under the terms of a lease which expires in 2020.

In June 2017 the SFA reiterated that the preferred option was for Hampden Park to remain the home of the national game and that a decision would be made within 12-18 months.

14 months later and within the time scale set by the SFA the decision was made.

The historic case is no small thing. This is not just about the fact that: the origins of the relationship between football and Hampden go back to at least 1873; the oldest football international in the world is associated with Hampden; or that Hampden is part of the story of Glasgow at play that cannot be simply be relocated.

Scotland has given a lot to the world of sport and the relationship between football and Hampden is an important part of that success story. Glasgow has established itself as an emerging international sporting city and Hampden is part of that success story. It is the only Scottish city and one of only two UK cities in the top 20 sportcal index of international sporting cities. Hampden helps to connect Scotland and Glasgow with other parts of the world.

While Italy does not have a national football stadium a survey of FIFA members showed that 65% of UEFA members (Europe) 83% of CONCACAF (North, Central America’s and the Caribbean); 81% OF CAF(Asia); 80% of CONMEBOL (South America) and 41% of AFC (Africa) members all have national football stadiums.

The attempt by the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) to shift the football powers from Glasgow to Edinburgh was ambitious and the decision to bid may still have spin offs for the SRU. The competitive advantages of ground ownership, greater stadium capacity allowed the SRU to offer the SFA financial inducements of up to £2 million per annum.

The SRU recognise the pull of football. Global impact studies will show that one in five people around the world connect with football is someway or another. It has a pull and attraction that is unparalleled and Scotland has an internationally recognised foothold in this world that many sports would like to tap into.

The fact that football playing members of football governing bodies are more than double that of rugby would not have gone unnoticed. The gradual increase in playing members sees football growing from 120,000 playing members in 2014 to 137,134 by 2017 compared to rugby’s modest growth from 47,598 in 2014 to 48,654 in 2017. In terms of adult men and women and junior boys and girls football numbers are far higher than rugby.

This is not the golden age for opinion pols. A 2017 survey of Scottish football fans showed that: 15% of the 2,923 involved wanted Hampden Park to continue as the national stadium; 34% of fans favoured a move to Murrayfield; playing at grounds across Scotland was the preference of 25%; 24% wanted a “new Hampden” built while 97% believed fans should have input to the decision. But what were the views of the 67,887 Scottish Football Supporters Association members who didn’t take part in the survey? Were the views represented mainly those of the bigger clubs who would financially benefit from the demise the National Football Stadium?

The prospect of regular Old Firm football matches being played at Murrayfield prompted the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) to put a marker down about the additional human and financial costs associated with policing the M8 corridor should the move to Murrafield have been sanction by the SFA Board. It is one thing for an Edinburgh Tory councillor to suggest that this is just a matter of resources but it is another thing entirely to find such resources on a regular basis.

The SFA would certainly have had to contribute to the cost of Murrayfield policing. It is a matter of judgement as to whether scarce SFA resources should be spent on policing or grassroots community developments given the proven benefits of football in relation to social cohesion and crime reduction.

In a nation that believes that devolved power and voice should be listened to the Mount Florida Community Council made their views known. The third Hampden Park, located on Mount Florida some 500 yds south of it’s predecessor opened in 1903. In a letter to Hampden Park Limited the Mount Florida Community Council put forward the case for remain on the grounds of the cost to local heritage, the local economy and local identity.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken warned of a historic stain that would be impossible to erase should Hampden, Queens Park, King’s Park and Mount Florida be abandoned. The promise of increased capacities through the introduction of safe standing, improved transport links and a user friendly council to assist the SFA with any stadium alterations were all forthcoming. Glasgow City Council need to stand by promises made.

In someway Hampden suffered, as does Scottish sport, from not having a unified voice fighting and advocating for Hampden. The danger would be that Hampden and Scottish Football did not fully realise what it had until it was too late.

The reason why Hampden had to remain the national home of Scottish Football is that Hampden is the national and international recognised home of Scottish Football. Most FIFA member countries have national football stadiums. Hampden can and should be improved but it would have been be cultural theft and vandalism to move it out of it’s current location. Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen and the SRU may have gained financially in some small way if football moved away from Hampden but Scotland as a whole would lose nationally and internationally.

Scotland has a recognised base, role and reputation through football and therefore why would and should it have moved to a base where in the words of the SRU’s chief operating officer ‘Rugby has to take priority’. This is not mutuality, this is not equality, and it would not have been good for Scotland or Scottish football.

Scotland’s future with football looks bright and the most recent Social Return on Investment Report highlighted the fact that football was worth £1.25 billion to Scottish Society. At least four things are worth highlighting:

GIRLS’ AND WOMEN’S FOOTBALL
Continues to grow and develop, inspired by the Scottish Women’s
National Team qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
The Scottish FA have some ambitious targets to develop the game on and off the pitch. We have some of the best players in the world who act as role models for players and young people across Scotland.

HAMPDEN AS HOME
Ownership of Hampden Park will enable the Scottish FA to control the future of the stadium. It will open up opportunities to continue to develop the infrastructure and create a national stadium that could engage the next generation of football fans.

FOOTBALL FOR ALL
The Scottish FA are committed to working with clubs and partners to make football accessible for all. It aims to make our game as diverse as possible to represent our communities.

COMMUNITY CLUBS
Scotland has some of the finest examples of community clubs in Europe. As clubs continue to grow and develop football has been working hard with the football family to
offer advice and guidance, both on and off the pitch, to allow clubs, no matter their place in the pathway to fulfil their ambitions.

FOOTBALL SRI FACTS
£200m to the economy
£300m worth of social benefits, including crime reduction
£700m worth of health benefits

Professor Grant Jarvie
University of Edinburgh

Kofi Annan 1938-2018 “We must use the power of sport as an agent of social change”

By Grant Jarvie

A Sporting Tribute to Kofi Annan

As a person the commitment to justice, human rights, peace and development were resolute. As a person Kofi Annan understood the potential of sport to convey humanitarian messages.

In a tribute to the former UN Secretary General’s work and commitment to some of the shared ideals with the Academy of sport we present extracts from speeches that recognised the potential of sport to be an agent of social change.

“Sport is an important tool to promote many of the things that are dear to me – democracy, social and developmental change, social cohesion and understandings among people” Kofi Annan (2010).

On Ghana and FIFA World Cup in South Africa

“The lasting trophy to take away from the tournament is this incredible moment of unity. I wish we could preserve it and invoke it more broadly for the development and wellbeing of the continent. There is no reason why we should wait another four years for another moment of solidarity; we can draw upon what you have created, now”

“Crucially, this unity went far beyond the shores of our continent. Millions of non-Africans cheered for you, too, something that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. I am sure, we have all felt at some stage of our lives that the world is united against Africa. But this World Cup, and particularly your last match, has shown the enormous goodwill towards our continent. You won – we all won – because you opened so many hearts and eyes”

On the UN and sport 

“Indeed, when Secretary-General, I admit we at the United Nations were often a little jealous of the power, and indeed, universality of sport.

Both the IOC and FIFA have, for example, more members than the UN. At the last count, the UN has 192 members compared to 208 who belong to FIFA.

It was why I was so determined at the UN to use sport more effectively to achieve development goals.

It is a huge tribute to sport in general – and to all of you here – that you have long recognised sports’ wider responsibility to society and its ability to drive social change”

Sport as an engine of social change 

“As Secretary-General, I appointed the former President of Switzerland, Adolf Ogi, as the first Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

This was followed by the establishment of an Inter-Agency Task Force and, in 2005, the UN’s successful International Year for Sport and Physical Education.

Our aim was to ensure sport was seen not as a by-product of development but as one of its engines.”

On sporting capabilities and challenges

“But some outside this knowledgeable audience might ask whether we are not asking too much of sport.

They are right to remind us that sport, above all, is a game to be enjoyed whether as a participant or as a spectator.

But this is to underestimate its convening power and far-reaching potential. Sport is the universal language, understood from Milan to Manila, from Montreal to Montevideo.

It engages and brings our world together in a way few, if any other activity, can manage.

It has an almost unmatched role to play in promoting understanding, healing wounds, mobilizing support for social causes, and breaking down barriers.

It can – and does – encourage pupils to stay in school and parents to get their children immunized.

It is used effectively to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and has helped drive global campaigns against such evils as child labour and landmines.

It provides both a powerful symbol for national identify but also brings people together across continents.

At its simplest, of course, sport and physical activity directly builds fitness and co-ordination, improving mental and physical well-being and resistance to disease.

Sport teaches the values of team-work, discipline and leadership as well as the reward of effort. Each are valuable lessons for life.

It builds confidence and social skills and is key to the healthy development for our children.

And in a world in which billions of us live a more sedentary lifestyle than even a generation ago, it is increasingly vital for all of us.”

On sport and society 

“But the positive benefits of sport go much further than its physical and mental impact for the individual. It is vital, too, for the health and strength of our societies.

Sport, used properly, challenges prejudices, heals divisions and champions tolerance.

I have seen time and time again how sport helps overcome the most deep-rooted conflicts and tensions.

The annual Twic Peace Olympics in southern Sudan takes place in a region which for many years has been scarred by ethnic and tribal conflict.

War was still raging when the first games were held a decade ago after organizers spotted how make-shift games of volleyball allowed refugees from different tribes to play together.

Sports fields, no matter how rough, have been places for centuries where fears and suspicions can be put aside.

The Twic games allow those from different communities to meet and compete with and against each other in friendship.

Now supported by a whole range of different organizations, the annual games attract global interest and are seen as a symbol of what sport can achieved in the most difficult situations.

Sport has, of course, frequently been used to cross divides between countries from the days of ping-pong diplomacy between the US and China to the way North and South Korea appear together today at international sporting events.

But it can also help heal divisions within countries and enable countries to come to terms with past and present tensions.

Just think of how the success of the Iraqi national football side in winning the Asia Cup in 2007 sparked scenes of jubilation in every community.

The side which included Sunnis, Shias and Kurds showed their fellow citizens – and the world as a whole – what could be achieved by working together.

The 400 metre gold medal won by aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Olympics did more to bring Australia together and enable it to face up to the past than any number of Government task forces or report.

And, of course, the far-reaching impact of South Africa’s triumph in the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup was recently portrayed in the film Invictus.

President Mandela understood that, just as the sports boycott had helped undermine the apartheid, sport could also heal its deep scars.

Sport promotes social integration, overcoming prejudices of race, background and gender.

It is sadly not yet the case that racism has been rooted out of sport. There is, as I know you fully recognise, much more to do.

But without sport, I believe racism would be much more prevalent in many of our societies.

It is hard to continue thinking yourself superior to those of other races or backgrounds, if your sporting hero has another skin colour or religion.

The selection of players from backgrounds for national teams has helped bring races together – and also built a new sense of national pride and belonging.

France’s World Cup triumph in 1998 – a team which featured Zidane, Desailly and Blanc – had a positive effect on how the country saw itself.

Sport is also proving important in breaking down gender barriers, and providing role models for empowering girls and women.

The international success of female athletes in many parts of Africa is giving the continent new heroines role models, challenging prejudices and helping girls achieve their own ambitions.

This is another important impact of the Twic Games at which girls, in a very traditional society, are treated as equals.

We have all seen, too, how sport helps people look anew at those with disabilities and provides a valuable route for integration.

The Paralympics and Special Olympics have been an extraordinary success, enabling us to focus on what people can do rather than what they can not.”

Sport , civil society, partnership 

It is through partnership, not only with development agencies but with civil society and the private sector that we can maximise the impact of sport for good in our world.

Thank you for all you are doing. With clear goals and renewed effort, we can achieve together a great deal more in the years to come to harness the potential of sport to improve lives across our planet.”

Concluding remark

Kofi Annan has been a powerful voice for the poor and a tireless advocate for peace, international security and human rights. The extracts presented from speeches during his period as secretary-general of the United Nations demonstrate that he understood the realpolitik of sport in society and the challenge remains to make the sense of purpose, mission  and leadership provided by his successes and failures into more of a reality. Kofi Annan understood that sport could be a resource of hope and optimism. 

The use of Sport initiatives to promote Human Rights in Palestine

By Asil Said 

 

Introduction

Books and Boxers and the Right to Movement are but two interventions aiming to make a difference to the lives of youth in Palestine. This Academy of Sport- Sport Matters blog provides an evidenced insight into the struggle for sport as a human right within Palestine. 

Sport, Palestine and the International Community

Sport and physical activity has international recognition as a simple, low cost and effective tool for development, and a means of achieving national and international development goals. The United Nations Agenda 2030 has provided sport with a mandate to contribute to social change.

In Palestine, due in part to the charged political situation and unrest in the region, sport has a significant opportunity and potential to be used as a tool for social change, promoting values such as gender equality, racial equality, health promotion, education, human rights awareness and social cohesion.

Sport has not claimed a position of priority within Palestinian policy agendas and it remains one of the least funded, supported and regulated sectors of development.

This is perhaps surprising given that youth (ages 15-29) comprise 30% of the total Palestinian population. All children and youth under the age of 29 comprise over 50% of the population.

The lack of sport activities and initiatives has contributed to an unhealthy environment that has led to participation in conflict and/or criminal activity.

Sport and Human Rights:

Participation in sport and physical activity is a recognised right to which people are entitled:

  • Article 1 of the Revised International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity an Sport adopted by UNESCO’s General Assembly (2015) states that:

“The practice of physical education, physical activity and sport is a fundamental right for all”.

  • Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities affirms the right of persons with disabilities to: “Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport”.
  • Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that: “Children have the right to relax and , and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities”.
  • Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) states men and women should have “the same Opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education”; and Article 13 states that: women have the “right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life”.
  • Sports has more recently been recognized by the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee for its active role in contributing to Agenda 2030 and  the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sport and physical activity is also an important facilitator of a number of other internationally recognized human rights, including:

  • The right to participate in cultural life, enshrined in Article 27 of the UDHR and Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
  • The right to health, enshrined in Article 25 of the UDHR, Article 12 of the ICESCR, Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Article 11 and 12 of CEDAW.
  • The right to rest and leisure, included in Article 24 of the UDHR and Article 7 of the ICESCR.

With the goal of increasing the participation of young people in sport as a human right and using it to assist in the achievement of human rights for youth in Palestine, many private initiatives, (led mainly by NGOs, local community organizations and individual athletes) have advanced successful interventions linking human rights to sports and youth in Palestine.

Books and Boxers: 

ElBarrio Gym is a for-profit business established in 2016 aiming to enable and assist sport in Palestine. The initiative “Books and Boxers” focuses on male adolescents in Ramallah’s poorest public schools (ages 13-16). It teaches boxing through a programme implemented with the help of the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

The programme is implemented with the aim of lowering high school dropout rates in the city of Ramallah, which is 15% higher than the reported 2.4% dropout rate for males enrolled in secondary education institutions in Palestine. With a violent culture surrounding such areas and public schools, ElBarrio wanted to use sport as a means to an end and  to create a shift in the way boys felt about education.

In addition to boxing training, ElBarrio Gym looked to provide psychological support for the participants, giving them the privacy and space to share their feelings and thoughts, as well  providing academic and educational support to sustain enrolment in school.

The programme hopes to reiterate the success with boys by targeting female students of public schools not only working towards lowering dropout rates but also shifting socially constructed barriers and perceptions related to female participation in martial arts and violent sports.

Nader Jayousi, the boxing coach responsible of the programme stated in an interview:

“The programme aims to create a safe space for the kids to practice sport, release their anger and learn that being active can support them and offer them an alternative future from the one they think they will have”.

A picture taken from the after school program “Books and Boxers” implemented by ElBarrio Gym in Ramallah, aiming to lower the dropout level of secndary school boys using the sport of Boxing. Source: elbarrio.ps

Right to Movement: Running to tell a different story: 

 The Right to Movement Palestine (RTM) is an entrepreneurial, non-profit, social start-up, that is part of a global running community aiming to run for the basic human right to freedom of movement. The initiative was named after article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating: “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State and everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”.

In Palestine, RTM laid the foundation for what is now the annual Palestinian Marathon in the city of Bethlehem. The location highlights movement restriction imposed by Israeli occupation and the fact that West Bank Palestinians are unable to find an unbroken distance of 42.1km in any of their major cities.

The marathon runners must turn around after arriving at a checkpoint to complete the official distance.

In addition to their daily running tours in different parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, RTM aspire to establish a running culture in the Palestinian community through empowering young people to practice sports, supporting women’s access to sport and reinforcing the right to physical activity.

Diala Said, one of the organisers of the group in the city of Ramallah said in an interview

“Around the world, you can just put on your shoes and go running, this inspired me to claim not only my own right to move, but the right of my fellow Palestinians to exercise and move freely”.

A picture taken from the 2016 Palestinian Marathon organized by RTM, showing Palestinian athletes running alongside the Israeli “Separation Wall” in the city of Bethlehem, to highlight the lack of right to movement in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Source; Right to Movement Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/righttomovement.org/

What next?

To fully utilise sport as a tool for human rights, a change in national and international policies is fundamental. This change starts with increasing the involvement, investment and communication between sporting and human rights organizations, which will in turn support the sustainability of sports initiatives while emphasising a range of individual and collective benefits associated with participation in sport as a human right.

In addition,  advancing widening access to sport programmes and initiatives (current ones and ones to be developed) to financial, institutional and development support as well as effectively activating government resources needs to be fought for.

A recognition of the role that sport can play in advancing  human rights within the Palestinian community needs to take place alongside more deliberate and direct strategies and policies working towards the mainstreaming” of sport.

 

United States Sport Diplomacy under 3 Presidents

By Joe Marro

For decades, the U.S. has aimed to use sport as an effective aspect of diplomacy and cultural relations efforts with a view to establishing deep, meaningful relationships with local stakeholders.

America’s use of sports diplomacy involves the work of influential athletes, local programmes and partnerships around the globe.

Sport has played an important role in developing America’s international image. This was evident in the American boycotts of some Cold War era Olympic Games, the work of Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Billy Jean King, Arthur Ashe and NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in China.

The Sports Diplomacy Division

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush’s Administration created Sports United, now the Sports Diplomacy Division (SDD), to use sport as a way to conduct diplomatic outreach between the U.S. and countries in the Middle East.

These efforts included sending U.S. athletes and coaches overseas as well as the Sports Visitor Program, which brings non-elite athletes and coaches to the U.S. for a training and development programme.

SDD made significant strides during the Obama Administration, including the creation of two new programmes aimed at increasing access to sport participation for women and girls and developing female emerging leaders in sport.

In a 2013  study  conducted by Management Systems International and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Policy and Evaluation, 92% of respondents said that their views of the American people had improved after participating in SDD programming.

The Sports Diplomacy Division consists of several programmes which aim to use sports as a platform for addressing foreign policy priorities across the globe.

SDD programmes have been growing and enhancing their impact. In the period from 2010 through 2013, the Sports Visitor, Sports Grants, and Sports Envoy programs all experienced significant growth.

  •  The Sports Visitor Program increased their impacted countries by 229% and experienced a 142% increase in the number of Sports Visitor participants.
  •  The Sports Grants program’s number of participants from 2010-2013 was 85% of their total participants in the eight years prior.
  •  The Sports Envoy Program had 179% more coaches and players in this four-year range than the previous eight years and reached 59% more countries than reached from 2005 to 2009.

Using sport to tackle global issues

Sports and Gender Equality

The work of the SDD is critical in improving opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport around the world.

In 2012, the State Department partnered with espnW to establish the Global Sports Mentoring Programme, which pairs emerging international women leaders with leading American female sports executives.

SDD’s Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative works to engage with underserved youth, particularly girls, in order to increase sport participation levels, raise levels of self-esteem, and increase focus on access to quality education.

This presents an opportunity for female leaders to participate in a five-week mentorship in the U.S. and allows them to bring lessons back into their communities with a view to promoting and fostering the growth of more female sport leaders.

Sport and Global Health

Physical activity has been shown to be an important part of preventative strategies to address global health. SDD works to increase physical activity through programmes like the International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI), which awards grants to U.S. non-profits working in 10 countries. This programme benefits both its international participants and U.S. non-profits, with 57 grants implemented through 38 different NGOs in the period from 2002-2009.

Since the programme’s introduction in 2002, there have been 862 Americans engaged in sport for development programmes overseas, and 1,462 foreign participants who have travelled to the U.S. to gain knowledge of the sport for change infrastructure.

Sport for Community

Since 2012, alumni from SDD’s “Sport for Community” programme  have mobilised close to 5,000 volunteers and impacted nearly 100,000 people through sports workshops, clinics, and conferences at the local level.

The Sport for Community programme partners with the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society at the University of Tennessee (UTK) to deliver these services across the country.

These partnerships with Universities like UTK, as well as the University of Kentucky’s  Global Centre for Sport Diplomacy are a sound method for delivering critical sport for development and social change programmes around the country.

These partnerships work to address pressing challenges both within the U.S. and abroad, in addition to serving a crucial role in helping to develop future leaders in the field.

American Professional Sports and Diplomacy

The United States Sports Diplomacy and cultural relations efforts also include harnessing the worldwide popularity of American sports leagues and athletes. In the past, athletes have visited countries where engagement with populations through traditional methods of outreach has proved challenging.

In early 2016, the SDD brought stars like NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal to Cuba to engage directly with Cuban youth and build upon the work of people-to-people exchanges. Sport is seen as a natural avenue for engaging Cuban youth and encouraging a closer relationship between the two nations in the decades to come.

These efforts can be replicated in countries where direct public engagement is needed to foster relationships.

Along these lines, the National Basketball Association has made significant progress in growing the game of basketball and the American basketball product globally, especially in Europe and Asia. In China, the NBA has worked with the Chinese Ministry of Education to administer a programme focused on basketball and physical fitness that it is anticipated to be taken up by some 2,000 schools across China.

The U.S. government has a unique opportunity to partner with U.S. based professional sport leagues like the NBA who have already made significant strides in growing their international influence. These types of partnerships help to advance U.S. cultural relations efforts abroad, deliver key services to countries in need, and, where appropriate, help in growing meaningful relationships with governments.

Where are we now?

Despite the many successes of the SDD and the proven track record of sport for development around the world, the current Administration has proposed wide-scale cuts to the State Department’s appropriations, the federal funding source for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, of which SDD is a part.

Given the scope and impact of its programmes, the Sport Diplomacy Division boasts a significant return on investment, spending just .0001% of the State Department’s budget.

This month’s shakeup at the State Department, resulting in the ouster of Secretary Rex Tillerson and President Trump’s appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, raises several questions for America’s diplomatic strategy going forward.

Mr. Tillerson presided over and supported proposed deep cuts to the Department’s budget and diplomatic corps. The first fourteen months of the Trump Administration have demonstrated an expected move away from soft power, creating a cloud of doubt around the role of diplomacy, including sport diplomacy and it’s place in America’s foreign policy over the next three years.