This was most recently the case with the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain, where Sebastian Vettel celebrated victory and spilled champagne while police was cracking down on anti-religious discrimination and pro-democracy protesters. Instead of sending a clear signal that the international sporting community will not support, and indeed opposes, this kind of tyranny, the cynical hot wheels circus of Bernie Ecclestone could not have cared less about these matters, and went ahead with proceedings as if the race was being held in Germany or Spain.
And this will again be the case when the European Soccer Championship takes place in Poland and the Ukraine in June this year. The Ukraine has currently locked up their former Premier and Orange Revolution heroine Yulia Tymoshenko for the ridiculous charge of accepting too high prizes from a Russian gas company. The man who had her thrown into jail is not surprisingly the current President of that country and her former main rival, Viktor Yanukovych. German doctors have asked for her to be transferred to a German hospital for treatment of a serious medical condition, which the Ukrainian thugs are refusing to allow. The German President, and good on him, therefore recently cancelled a state visit to the place.
I read that some German politicians are thinking of not travelling to the Ukraine for the Euro games. Hardly a punishment for the Ukrainian government, is it. What should happen is that until Yulia Tymoshenko is aquitted and freed from prison, every single team scheduled to play any Euro games in the Ukraine should refuse to do so. Don’t wait for the spineless European football bureaucracy to come to the party here, because it’s not going to happen. Like the opportunist Ecclestone, these people look at the money and nothing else. If German politicians including the chancellor decide to give the Ukraine the finger, that’s a start, but it will only have any effect if the German soccer team stays away as well.