Being hierarchical is almost a way of life. When we mean a way of life, this does not confine only to the Homo sapiens. Hierarchical society is imbedded by nature from the termites to the Homo sapiens a group which historically descended from Homo erectus. In the insect world, generally up on the line are [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Mixing hatred, racism, terrorism with sports


Being hierarchical is almost a way of life. When we mean a way of life, this does not confine only to the Homo sapiens. Hierarchical society is imbedded by nature from the termites to the Homo sapiens a group which historically descended from Homo erectus. In the insect world, generally up on the line are the queens, but, the Homo sapiens who generally belong to a male-dominated society opted for kings.

The 2008 Mumbai Bombings closed the doors for the Pakistani cricketers in the IPL.

Initially it was in Greece that the status quo changed and people were afforded an opportunity to place someone of their choice to reign over rest of the subjects. Yet, it took another couple of millenniums for this system to evolve into the system of today what we describe as politics and its main stream segments of Democracy and Socialism.

Unlike the royal breeds that have the born right to rule people, the politicians especially in the democratic world have to depend on the sentiments of the people and say and do the right things to obtain their nod of approval. The worst are the attempts by the politicians when they try to unleash hatred among people just to protrude themselves as a champion of a cause. When it gets to that level, the people who generally get more agitated are the less-read mortals in society – a lot who could be and are manipulated by the crooked-eyed politicians for their stability upon their pedestals.

One may wonder why we at this end are indulging in a subject that has limited surface interest in our mainstream — sports. But, when one sees what is taking place around us we get that eerie feeling that some politicians in our neighbourhood are trying to whip up racial sentiments and rouse people against sports and sportspersons.

The very first politically motivated sports massacre took place at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, in West Germany.
Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer, by the Palestinian group called Black September.

The next big attack on sports occurred on March 3, 2009 in Pakistan. When the Lankan Cricketers were approaching the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the third day’s play in their second Test match of the series; they were fired upon by a group of twelve gunmen. Six members of the Sri Lanka national cricket team were wounded. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed.
What was the result? Pakistan became the outcasts of world sport. They missed the hosting of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Now for almost five years, no top sports contingent has toured the country. Why? A few politically misguided elements who took fanaticism as their doctrine exploded, but the country as whole imploded sports wise.

Today, the Pakistan cricket team has become the nomads of the ICC. They make their scheduled tours to the other countries, but, when it comes to a home series, they are either in the United Arab Emirates or some other venue — Sri Lanka or the London Oval.
Even the 2012 Olympics had that particular scare. In March last year an English newspaper screamed – “Terrorists linked with al-Qaeda are plotting a cyanide poison attack on London Olympics by mixing chemicals with hand cream, it has been reported. Extremists have posted ‘detailed instructions’ on a website with links to the terror group on how to launch an attack this summer’s games in the capital.

There were protests against the ex-Lankan cricketer and the No. 1 ICC umpire Kumar Dharmasena officiating in a Test match between India and Australia in Chennai last week.

“One member, called Abu Hija Ansari claimed the cyanide should be mixed with an unidentified hand cream so it could be absorbed through human skin, according to The Sun.”

Yet, common sense prevailed at this point and nothing major occurred, except for a few LTTE supporters trying whip up some anti-Sri Lankan sentiments which were largely ignored.

Moving closer to home, protests against Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena officiating in the first Test match between India and Australia at Chennai occurred the other day.

Dharmasena had turned down an appeal when Michael Clarke was found to be out after he nicked a delivery on to his leg which Cheteshwar Pujara held on to at forward short-leg when on 39.

However, Dharmasena turned down the appeal. The Australian skipper went on to make 130.

A pro-Elam group in Tamil Nadu had protested outside the Chidambaram stadium in Chennai during the India-Australia first Test, against the presence of Sri Lanka’s Dharmasena in the state. Still one must remember at that point that Dharmasena was not representing Sri Lanka, but, the ICC.

Dharmasena was one of the umpires officiating in the test match, which India finally won.

Police had arrested 50 of those protestors.

That incident was a part of a series of similar protest campaigns erupted in Tamil-Nadu against Sri Lanka and its nationals visiting the southern Indian state for either for business purposes, pilgrimage or sports.
The other day Tamil Nadu’s chief minister J. Jayalalithaa had refused to host the Asian Athletics Championships because of the participation of Sri Lanka which she accuses of war crimes.

Chennai, the state capital, was due to host the event in July, but Jayalalithaa said Sri Lanka must not be allowed to take part.
Now the latest the politically whipped South Indian cry of not to let Sri Lankan cricketers take part in the Indian Premier League T-20 tournament – the IPL. The callers are crying out not to let the Indian franchise Chennai Super Kings include any Sri Lankan players in its squad.

This column always has been against Sports getting entangled in politics or vice-versa in any form. Sports should be independent from any form of race-based politics in this country. At the same time Sri Lanka has been successful in that, especially in cricket. The record breaking Lankan off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan hails from a community known as Sri Lankan Tamils of Indian Origin. The present Sri Lankan cricket captain Angelo Mathews is also from a Christian minority community.

However, the situation in South India or take India as a whole, is volatile, where Sri Lankan is concerned. Most Tamil Nadu politicians keep harbouring grudges against the Lankans and its sports people for their own gain at the pedestal. What if fanatic/fanatics take the law into their hands and create a scene akin to that of 2009 Lahore or the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. What would the rest of the sporting world think of India?

Still the subjected sports people are Lankans and it is up to the Sri Lankan Government to foresee such possibilities and work towards precautions. A bridge too late will not save any lives.

Sportspeople are sportspeople; they do not live politics for their own gain. Shouldn’t the Lankan authorities think of some assurances before they release our cricketers to the Indian Premier League?

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