For some strange reason the League of Ireland Professional Players Association has decided that all players will “take a knee,” before all games until the end of September. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they don’t do this during Amhrán na bhFiann.
The PFA’s statement said that this is to “mark the untimely death of George Floyd and stand in strong solidarity with fellow professionals, civil society and the world wide campaign for equality and fair treatment in life and sport.” Perhaps they should agree to have all games end in a draw so?
Apart from the “Look at us, we’re so cool” aspect of all of this, it does beg the question as to what is the relevance of such mimickry to this country. The Gardaí haven’t killed any black people in custody of late, nor black soccer supporters or players, unless I missed it?
Indeed far from having to expunge some awful history of racism, the League of Ireland has been totally woke on all of this. To the point where former FAI international team manager Brian Kerr was complaining about Ireland being “too white.” Imagine if you will the Cameroon manager complaining about his country being “too black.” Especially given that the current one is a whiteish looking chap from Portugal.
The Bohs are full on with all of this at the moment. In June they donated all the proceeds of their away jersey sales for one week to the Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland to oppose Direct Provision. Granted, the revenue from the top bearing the slogan “Refugees Welcome” would hardly be enough to buy a take away for the hunger strikers in Cahirciveen, but it is the virtue that counts.
Perhaps those League of Ireland clubs, which employed a person after he was convicted for involvement in the gang rape of a 14 year old girl, might have made some redress for that rather than this infantile stuff. Perhaps a donation to assist the victims of sexual violence? Instead, the player Ismaheel Akinade was signed by Bohemians and then Waterford after he was found guilty but given a suspended sentence.
Not only that but people associated with both clubs claimed that those who raised the question as to whether such a person ought to be playing for them were lying and making up the whole thing. And that even if it was true, it was racist to bring the unsavoury fact to notice, That was assisted by Akinade successfully muzzling newspapers from reporting on the case in 2015.
When Akinade was eventually deported in 2019 at the end of his “sentence” and having failed to turn up at previous hearings while playing with Waterford, the club issued a statement which said that Akinade and Waterford FC had parted ways by “mutual agreement..” Not quite what actually happened given that Akinade was put on a plane and now plays soccer in Vietnam.
In fairness, some Bohs and Waterford supporters did make their views known but they were ignored. In any event, influential figures in the “collective” that runs Bohemians far prefer to use the club for political reasons. One local left wing councillor who is a member has been associated with Anti Fascist Action here for decades.
The kneeling business then is clearly part of the effort to enlist sport into the service of politics. No doubt attempts are being made to persuade other organisations to follow suit. Let us trust that they will display a bit more backbone than the FAI.