“Sports had brought people together across cultural and political boundaries and fostered inclusiveness. There had been many examples of the role of sport in creating bridges between divided communities, supporting reconciliation and fostering peace,” said Vice President of the UN General Assembly, Gréta Gunnarsdóttir from Iceland. The real question is, are sports a way to create peace and promote unity between countries?
As countries continue to have conflicts with each other for various reasons, sports seem to be a valid way to calm down tension. Most of the answers supported sports as a way for countries to connect through one medium. Examples of this can be seen from watching one universal sport, soccer or futbol as it’s called in other countries.
Soccer is among the most watched programs in most nations around the world. It’s a time where countries come together and play a sport competitively that everyone can relate to. Whether it’s the Eurocup, the World Cup, or just a regular game, mostly every nation can agree that soccer is fun to watch. During the World Cup, it’s a time for fun and games. Countries focus on bragging rights instead of political battles. Sports sets a good example for kids as well. It’s something for kids to look up to and forget about all the problems in the world.
The hype is also starting to spread to basketball. This year, the FIBA Basketball World Cup got much more attention than it had in the past globally. Sports continue to become a bigger and more important part of our society. Whether it’s Canada vs. the USA in hockey, Germany vs. Brazil in the FIFA World Cup, or the USA vs. Spain in the FIBA World Cup, everyone wants to see these contests take place either for the drama before the game or the action during the match.
Unfortunately there is a negative side to sports. On Tuesday, Oct. 14th, Serbia and Albania played a 2016 Eurocup qualifying soccer game in Belgrade, Serbia. Due to the strained relations between the two, no Albanian fans were allowed to attend. Halfway into the contest, a drone (most likely flown by an Albanian fan) entered the stadium with an Albanian flag.
One Serbian defender pulled down the flag, which was received by applause from the fans. The Albanian team got mad, they tried to take back the flag and all hell broke loose. The game was ended immediately and the Serbian government pointed fingers at the Albanian government, who denied all accusations. All this happened a week before Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was expected to visit Serbia, which would be the first visit by an Albanian official in 70 years.
Ivica Dacia, Serbia’s Foreign Minister had this to say about the game “If someone from Serbia had unveiled a flag of Greater Serbia in Tirana [capital of Albania] or Pristina [capital of Kosovo], it would already be on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council,” This is not the first time Serbia has had problems during soccer matches.
In a separate Eurocup 2010 qualifier against Italy in Genoa, Serbian supporters threw flares on the field at players and at home Italian fans, which caused the match to end after only seven minutes. “It’s up to the Serbian government now to launch a swift investigation and establish who recruited these young men to come here and riot because this is an act of aggression which goes beyond football,” said Serbian President Tomislav Karadzic.