How to keep politics and sports separate

FIFA, may not be a government, but they and the events they put on are undeniably political and embody all the worst things about globalisation.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left to right) stand for the anthem prior to the match between Russia and Saudi Arabia which opened the 2018 soccer World Cup in Russia.(Source: AP/SITA)

For better or worse, sports and politics often intersect. As the World Cup gets underway in Russia, this tournament has more political overtones than most.

While Saudi Arabia was losing 5-0 to the host country Russia in the tournament’s opening match, the Saudi army launched a massive attack on the Yemeni city of Hodeidah. That key port is the source of 80 percent of supplies, food and fuel entering the war-torn country — and the new fighting has led humanitarian groups to forecast a coming crisis. The attack targeted Houthi rebels, who are backed by another World Cup nation — Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran’s footballers were involved in the drama of their own. Following US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the compromise nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, the World Cup team had trouble acquiring uniforms and equipment. Unlike the other squads in the tournament, which generally are paid to wear uniforms produced by Adidas, Nike or some other brand, the Iranian team had to buy their own.

The rest of this article is premium content at
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on and

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Theme: Football

Top stories

Šefčovič will run for president

Our country needs good and non-partisan president, he said.

Maroš Šefčovič

‘All his own work’

To preserve their credibility, real academics must call out plagiarism.

Speaker of Parliament Andrej Danko

Biathlete Kuzmina triumphs in the women’s 10km sprint

It is her second World Cup victory this season.

Anastasiya Kuzmina

Slovakia breaks record in car production, but future is electric

This year will be extremely demanding for the car industry in Slovakia.