Sport as a weapon

THE BATTLE which erupted at Lansdowne Road during the England versus Eire friendly was condemned by the same journalists and politicians who make it their business under normal circumstances to whip up national chauvinism and defence of ‘our’ nation against international competition both on and off the football pitch.

The link between national chauvinism and football - and for that matter sport in general - is nothing new. Sport on a world scale has been used to cohere nations and set worker against worker in wagging the flag for their team.

It is more than a little hypocritical then that the bourgeois press can bemoan the chauvinism and violence of England fans when they have invested so much time and energy whipping up hysteria against Irish freedom fighters.

Terrified to own the monster they have unleashed, commentators instead blamed the BNP and Combat 18, as if these tiny groups of fascist thugs could have been responsible for all the violence on the day.

The real fact is that chauvinist and xenophobic English fans went along with the violence which may well have been initiated by these thugs. They allowed them to display their banners, give out their leaflets and shout their slogans unchallenged.

These are dispossessed white working class youth made unemployed or on poverty wages at the hands of capitalism. It is this barbaric system which treats human beings as so much fodder which is to blame for the violence and perverted morality it promotes. In the absence of any alternative working class movement, those on the receiving end try to muster some pride for themselves in pathetic and desperate extreme nationalism.

Workers need their own alternative vision in sport, as in everything else. That means sport which develops human ability to the full, not perverts it in the name of big business and the nation state. We know if declassed workers can be mobilised so easily to fight for the bosses’ nation state in the football ground, the same would be true if it came to a bosses’ war.

Linda Addison