Abul Koyair, of bangladeshi origin and one of the two brothers victimised by the recent so-called anti-terror action by the London police in East London sported a Brazilian football T shirt in a demo that he led over the weekend -Â the T shirt had the name “Menezes” written across the back. Menezes was the innocent Brazilian shot dead in the London underground in another anti-terror cock up by the London police. Koyair’s Brazil t-shirt attracts attention and says loudly that shooting innocent people, raiding people’s homes for no good reason and demonising entire communities doesn’t do anything for the “struggle against terror.”
But football symbolism can go badly wrong. After Ghana’s first goal and and at the end of its well earned and tremendous victory over the Czech, one of the Ghanian players pulled out an Israeli flag from his socks and started waving it around in front of the cameras. Bizarre to say the least. It has caused bemusement, bewilderment, anger, interest and a whole host of emotions throughout the world. It has also elicited an apology from the Ghana Football Association.
It transpires that three ( though I can only find two) Ghanian players play for teams in Israel. So why did the player, John Painstil, do it? His association has put it down to his ignorance and naivete. He himself is quoted as saying
â€œI love your country,â€ Pantsil told Israeli reporters after the game. â€œYouâ€™ve done everything for me, and thanks to you I made it to the World Cup. So I wanted to bring you some happiness in return.â€
Aww. How sweet, don’t you think? Except it doesn’t quite ring true if we read what Assaf Geffen writes in Haaretz online about the treatment faced by Africans in Israel:
For example Paintsil’s fellow countrymen, and other Africans, may not have lifted the Israeli flag but have been working here for years, and are subjected to inhuman treatment from us. Paintsil’s partner was no exception - she was deported before being allowed back after someone at Maccabi Tel Aviv made a phone call. Paintsil and other African players receive VIP treatment from Israeli fans, including monkey calls and thrown bananas.
But perhaps there was a rational objective behind this stupid act - there are rumours that he was to be kicked out of his club in Tel Aviv. Now that the Israeli sports minister has thanked him and his team also has had to make a positive statement, the gesture might have been some kind of calculated insurance policy? And no doubt his partner will get the red carpet treatment at the airport from now on?