Sport and Politics: they just don’t mix. Everyone knows the old adage – the two should be kept at arm’s length… but the truth is that to attempt to do so is an exercise in futility. Lazio’s poorly-reputed and politically-influenced fans did themselves no favours when they visited Tottenham last week, and ‘right-wing’ is becoming more than a flank of the Westfalenstadion pitch for some Dortmund fans.
But if domestic football suffers from occasional flirtations with partisanship and political allegiance, international football is wedded to it. When tied to notions of nationhood, how could it be any other way? A case in point has been the ongoing saga of Fifa’s non-recognition of the Kosovo national team, which took a new twist when Xherdan Shaqiri and some of his Swiss international teammates took the bold move of sending an open letter to the game’s governing body last week ahead of their fixture against Albania.