7 March 2018

Ribbon

The current manager of Manchester City Football Club is a passionate and rather eccentric fellow called Pep Guardiola. He hails from the Catalonia region of Spain. You my recall that the Spanish government has sought to supress the Catalonian independence movement. Several Catalonian politicians have been incarcerated and to demonstrate support for them thousands of ordinary Catalonians have been wearing yellow lapel ribbons. In TV interviews about football matches Pep Guardiola's own yellow ribbon has been visible for many weeks.  

However, the English Football Association have a rule that says that managers and players must not wear any "political" symbols. Because of this rule they have brought Pep Guardiola to task, charging him with the offence.. He has admitted his guilt but shown no contrition and has no plans to stop wearing the discreet yellow ribbon. 

I was thinking about this last night.

It is okay for football teams to wear shirts that bear the logos of betting companies and online casinos but it is not okay to wear a small yellow ribbon. It is okay for dodgy Russian, Chinese and American oligarchs to own English football clubs but it is not okay to wear a small yellow ribbon. It is okay for matches to be switched around to benefit the ruthless Sky TV  organisation but it is not okay to wear a small yellow ribbon. It is okay for a Premier League player to earn £250,000 a week but it is not okay to wear a small yellow ribbon. It is okay for football grounds to be adorned with advertising for all manner of products and services but it is not okay to wear a small yellow  ribbon. 
Stoke City football shirt
The morality of this is all topsy turvy in my opinion and if I were a Manchester City fan I would also wear a small yellow ribbon when attending their matches - to show solidarity with Pep Guardiola and the campaign to free imprisoned Catalonian politicians. Besides, I was under the illusion that we live in a democracy in which citizens are entitled to free speech.

18 comments:

  1. I imagine you meant to type "not" instead of "now".

    Pep Guardiola appears to be standing by his convictions regardless.

    Cricketers and football players in this country (all codes of football) are allowed to wear black bands around their arms in respect of the death of past players, coaches etc., but I doubt they are able to wear a political symbol of any kind. I could be wrong. I don't recall any such incidences, or any rulings of that kind, but that means little.

    I guess if it is/was allowed, it could get out of hand....I don't know....

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    1. You are right Lee. Thank you for pointing out my error. I shall correct it immediately.

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  2. It's always the money, isn't it? They wouldn't want to do anything to alienate those big corporate supporters -- and though Guardiola's ribbon might not do so, I suppose other political protests might. I agree with you, though. It seems crazy that so much is tolerated but a small, discreet symbol of solidarity with a political cause is questioned. (And I say that even though I have doubts about the wisdom of Catalonian independence.)

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    1. I respect the right of the Catalonian people to determine their own future even though within the context of the EU the integrity of independence is very questionable.

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  3. We do live in a democracy and we can say what we like. Wear what we like. Macdonell can threaten lynching and walk a free man which is fine as he is a 'Soy Boy' Soy Boys can say anything as it takes muscle to back nasty words... Should he ever get to power then things may be different.

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    1. We seem to have moved off on bit of a tangent Adrian!

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    2. Agreed. I have learnt from the Socialists.

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  4. Two wrongs don't make a right. I don't believe politics should be brought into sports and I don't believe sports should be backed (and basically run) by big corporations. Both are wrong, in my opinion. I also believe that if there are rules, and people choose to belong to the organization with the rules, and they don't like the rules, then let them work to change the rules, not simply flout them. And perhaps that's what this man is doing - taking the first steps to work to change the rule that he disagrees with. But it's not the best route, in my mind.

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    1. As usual, you have given this issue wise consideration Jenny - leaving food for thought.

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    2. Jenny, I must disagree with you. Perhaps because I live in the US, I know how impossible it is for one person to take a stand against corporations and "rules."
      The rules are often completely arbitrary (how does Pep's yellow ribbon harm anyone?) and the rules are simply a way to assert the power of money against the freedom of individuals to have their own ideas. Do you have a better route to suggest for changing rules? What else do you think Guardiola should do to assert that persons within an organization, abiding by all the important regulations of that organization, are entitled to their own convictions and opinions? Surely you don't think he should just quit being a part of the beautiful game--that's what he does.
      It wouldn't do much good for me to wear a yellow ribbon here in Oregon, but I might do it anyway. And if I sound a bit strident, please remember that I'm trying to live in a country where "politics" is destroying us.

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    3. Wow! That's a powerful defence Kate. Thoughtfully articulated. If we can't stand up and be counted then we are not free.

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    4. I see the rules differently - not as simply arbitrary but to keep things that are not sport-related from edging into the sport. A yellow ribbon, it is true, is a small thing and appears to harm no one. But other people in the organization might wish to take their individual statements further, and where does the line between "okay" and "not okay" get drawn? No one is suggesting that Guardiola cannot wear a ribbon when he is off the field, only that when he is playing he must be attired according to the rules of his job. I work in an office where I accept I must wear a certain kind of attire; I don't see it being any different for players in any game where they are paid to do what they do.

      If he feels so strongly about his beliefs that he cannot square the rules of his job with them, then he might have to make a hard choice. We can't always get everything we want.

      The way that rules are usually changed is by working your way into a management position and then working to convince the rest of management that the rules need changing.

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  5. Free speech? Not when there's money involved. All sanity is off the table.

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    1. That's true but must we lie down and accept it?

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  6. We have a similar issue in Germany about Muslim women wearing headscarves when working in a position that is supposed to be neutral in all senses, such as teachers. There is an ongoing debate about how much this religious symbol interfers with their role, and might influence their students.
    Same with politics; teachers (as well as other civil servants etc.) are expected to leave out any statements (be it clothing or in other ways) about politics while "on the job".
    Here in this country, we have had very bad experiences with such things in the past, but I wonder how "neutral" a person can ever be; we do not have buttons to switch off this or that part of ourselves.

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    1. In the end they can take away the symbolism or make us display it but they cannot change what is ingrained in our hearts.

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  8. Thank you for this post YP, it means a lot to many people here in Catalonia. Independently (pun intended) of whether people agree or not with Catalonia's aim for independence, no sensible solution will be found by imprisoning (on remand - they haven't even been tried of anything yet!) these people who merely represent what millions of Catalans want. One of the politicians is well-known for his work regarding peace and cooperation with third world countries, the other was the Catalan Home Minister responsible for finding and dealing with the terrorist group last August.The third prisoner is leader of a grassroots pro-indy movement, and the fourth is the leader of a cultural organization promoting the use of Catalan language! Anyway, to cut a long story short, we believe the yellow ribbon is not a political symbol, many people here not in favour of independence also wear them. It merely means you want your loved ones back home, as the famous Tie a Yellow Ribbon song itself says.

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