Friday, January 9, 2009

Kanoute in Hot Water over T-Shirt

Sevilla striker and Mali international Frederic Kanoute is facing a fine from the Spanish football federation for revealing a T-shirt expressing support for Palestine during a match.

The Mali striker lifted his Sevilla kit over his head after scoring in the team's 2-1 Copa del Rey win over Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday.

He displayed a black T-shirt on which the word "Palestine" was printed in several languages.

The federation's competition committee is to study the incident on Friday.

Kanoute, who was born in France but plays internationally for Mali, is a practicing Muslim.

Kanoute's action, which has been interpreted as a response to Israel's recent attacks on Gaza that have killed nearly 700 people, was met with a yellow card from referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.

Lahoz said in his post-match report that he'd cautioned Kanoute for raising his shirt over his head in accordance with federation rules, while also noting the message of the striker's T-shirt.

Raphael Schultz, Israel's ambassador in Madrid, told Radio MARCA on Thursday that Kanoute's gesture "had gone beyond his profession and FIFA rules to this respect."

"I saw the match and the T-shirt bore nothing more than the name of Palestine. It was not an incitement against Israel. I don't think it extolled violence," Schultz said.

Meanwhile, Palestine embassy official Mahmoud Aluanen told the same station that Kanoute "has shown himself to be a very brave person to support our people at a public event."

"Sportsmen are human beings and cannot contain their feelings. They have all the right in the world to express their opinion about matters which contravene human rights. I'm sure that all Palestinian children, those who love football, will be happy about this gesture," Aluanen added.

The incident came a day before Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas paid a visit to Madrid for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos.

UPDATE: Kanoute's been fined 3000 Euros, the most allowed by the Spanish Federation.

MY POV: While I'm of the opinion that sportsmen are human beings and obviously complex people, the sports arena isn't a place for these political displays, especially the club game.

It's just too tricky. Many people that support Sevilla might not agree with Kanoute's message.
Also, think about Israeli people who have nothing to do with the attacks.

How do you think they feel?

Football is a passionate sport and the people's game, but these political messages can only heighten hostility, not abate it.

The excellent Spanish football blog La Liga Talk talks clearly about the Kanoute incident, kind of siding on the other side ... what do you think?

There are certian things that never go together. If they are placed together, they could cause an explosion.

Aluminum and microwaves. Water and grease on fire.

Politics and football. These last two are redundant as they generate the same amount of passion and violence when the right ingredients are mixed.

Frederic Kanouté was excited after scored the first goal of the game in Wednedsday´s Copa del Rey matchup against Deportivo. There was a great deal of excitement in the air as Sevilla put themselves on the scoreboard. What came was the biggest sociopolitical that news that emerged so far this season in Spain.

When he lifted his jersey, a shirt expressing his support for Palestine emerged from under it. For many it riled up several political leanings, biases, and other predispositions regardless of which side of the conflict your allegiances stand on.

According to Spanish media he is supposed to receive a heavy fine from both the league and UEFA for making such a political statement, on top the booking he received. ¨This is a very important step. (Kanouté) showed a great deal of courage for supporting our cause in a public function,¨ said Palestinian Embassy counselor Mahmud Aluanen. Forums from all of the biggest dailies in Spain and in Andalucia express their support for the Mali international.

As far as Kanouté everyone knows where his allegiances stand. The Mali international is a French-born muslim that has been active with his religion in a positive fashion. Kanouté built a home for orphans in Mali and was able to help keep open a mosque in Sevilla by offering half a million dollars. His actions brought praise and criticism from both sides but for their own reasons and benefits.

Look this is not a political blog or a religious one, but Kanouté is one that understands his position as a person in the limelight. Based on his track record he is not a man that is trying to incite violence or to start an uprising. That is not what he is about. We can all be sure that the Sevilla star was not giving his thumbs-up to Hamas. He did show support for the people that have nothing to do with this tragic series of events that have seen thousands of innocent people caught in the middle of the crossfire. Kanouté is just showing those people support, God only knows those people (the innocent ones) need it.


Anthony said...

Hey Cesar, Anthony here from the Sevilla offside. Good article about Fredi, i wrote a couple, compare and contrast if you want although mine are just meant to fuel discussion amongst other peoples.

I totally agree with most of what you said except that I do not believe he was right in his actions. I sound like a broken record because I've had this exact same conversation a lot recently but here it goes.

I believe that Kanouté abused his power as a professional footballer, he is obviously in the limelight and by doing what he did, he abused his position. Of course I love Big Fredi, he's the most down to earth footballer I have ever seen and I have no hate against Islam or Palestine nor do I support Israel what so ever. I do sympathize with the Palestinian people but politics and football should not be allowed to mix, its unfortunate because they are more times than not.

I believe that once the players step out on that pitch, that race, religion, and sexuality is irrelevant, fútbol is what matters. Rules are rules regardless of the situation and if they are not followed then where will it end really? Things will get out of hand, that's a certainty.

Hope to hear from you and what you think in response.


Cesar said...

Anthony, thanks for the comment ...
I agree with you ... I think once he steps out onto the pitch, his personal political affiliations, etc. have to go to the side.

I know he's a living, breathing human with complex emotions. But when he's on the pitch, he represents Sevilla FC. And I think his message, whatever anyone thinks about it, can be construed in wrong ways by many people ...

Thanks for the comment!!