• Thursday, March 05, 2015


Sports IS Always Politics (Occasionally)

Photos: Star File
Photo: Star File

Unless a person who lives in Bangladesh, subsists on Bangladesh, who speaks in Bangla (I hope), who has a father and a mother who also speaks in Bangla, is totally devoid of self-respect, can he or she carry (chee!) the flag of another country inside a stadium in his (supposedly) own country, wave (chee! chee!) the foreign colours in wanton ecstasy for the rest of the world to see on television; their display is but an expression of their deep political views because a flag after all is a symbol of a political property.
It is most unfortunate, tragic indeed in our fifth decade of independence, that their parents never told them even for once that the lal-sobuj flag they abandoned during those 100 or so overs at a cricket match was earned at the cost of three million martyrs; their senseless orgy is a triumph of the 1971 ghatak over their paralysed conscience.
If you care to lend your ear, you can still hear the whimper of the mother who lost her child, the sobbing of the daughter who lost her father, and yet I cannot bear the shriek of the woman being raped as she clings on to the flag that today those animals at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium and Fatullah replaced with that of Pakistan and India.
There are sports lovers all over the world, at the World Cup, the Olympics, the European competitions and Asian and others, but no Soviet fan of Maradona will have waved the Argentine flag in Moscow, no American fan of Maria Sharapova (and there are millions) will sway the Russian colours at the US Open, no Indian fan of Shahid Afridi will dare to touch a Pakistan flag, no Pakistani fan of Sachin Tendulkar think of an Indian flag. They are all sports lovers and yet patriots. There are dignified ways of appreciating sports persons of other countries. God gave us two hands for that.
Shakib Al Hasan remained the world's number one all-rounder for months. Have any of those Bangla-speaking political elements in the garb of cricket lovers seen one Bangladesh flag waved by any non-Bangladeshi at any cricket stadium anywhere in the world where Shakib was playing? Have any one of them done it at the IPL matches where Shakib sparkled? Or at the County cricket matches? They too love their cricket. But they do not use that as a passport to deliberately undermine their own country.
It is obvious that the Pakistan and Indian cricketers in Dhaka, and the Pakistanis and the Indians watching the coverage in their own countries must think very lowly of us. And yet we call ourselves Tigers for our heroism in 1952, 1969, 1971, 1990... Do the rest of us deserve to be shamed by a bunch of morons who know not history, have no culture, and are lacking even the scantest of patriotism?
With Pakistan we have several longstanding unresolved issues. Apology, asset sharing, war crimes, stranded Pakistanis… We just cannot stash them up in a cupboard. Nor can the nincompoops be allowed to cheer for them like they were their own players, and the flag was that of their own country.  

To counter that idiocy (read gaddar) that brews a rivalry in their own mahalla, there is another group of unscrupulous people who travel to these stadiums with the Indian flag. Tauba! I can almost hear our well-meaning Dadas laughing so loudly, saying in Bangla 'have you guys lost your head?'Matha het hoye jacche. Why should these idiots, snubbed by Mamata, sceptic of Modi, wave the flag of India? That is also another country. Somebody please tell these clowns that we are a different country with our own flag.
Reference here is to the Asian Cup cricket played at Dhaka in the month of our independence. What a shame! The Indo-Pak invasion is more disgraceful than our defeat to Afghanistan, not because many Bangladeshis found out about Karzai country for the first time, but because there is nobility in defeat but none in double-crossing the womb of your mother.
The shameful painting of the Bangladeshi cheek (thuk!) with either the Pakistan or the Indian flag takes me back to my own writing in this column on 20 April 1996 (that is 17 years ago) when I wrote:
“It was thoroughly dishonourable and utterly disgraceful the way Bangladeshis revered the Pakistani and the Indian flags at a cricket tournament held to commemorate the silver jubilee of our independence. Poor independence! The foreign flags were everywhere; atop staves (one had a chan-tara upside down), in placards, on their foreheads… but the most appropriate place must have been their face. You could slap it from dawn to dusk, from left to right, even if to try and pacify the soul of the unknown freedom fighter. How thousands must have thronged to the stadium but to watch some wretched sons of the soil trivialise their supreme sacrifice!”
For all the woes that we are going through, I blame the Bangladesh Cricket Board. If they could stop water bottles, food, banners, lipstick, tissues, etc. from entering the stadium at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, there is no reason why they cannot stop a handful of locals from carrying foreign flags, decorating their face uglier with alien colours, and actually waving the flags on the galleries to destroy the sanctity of others. Just don't let them enter. Simply throw them out. Promptly arrest them on charges of being traitors and creating public disorder. Show some respect to the martyrs.
BCB has to stop this tamasha at the forthcoming ICC T-20 World Cup 2014 to be hosted by Bangladesh. Have our forces patrol the galleries and evict any political buffoon, male or female or animal, waving a flag of another country. This is the least expected from the BCB president, Nazmul Hassan Papon, whose father, our venerated late president Mohammed Zillur Rahman, was a valiant freedom fighter and one of the architects of this nation.
Yes, I can keep politics out of sports, but that standpoint is to keep politics out of my country's sports federations, to ensure selection of the most deserving players in my national team, to foster camaraderie between competing countries worldwide except Israel; but between two independent countries with a past, sports IS always politics. Ask any Indian and any Pakistani. Inquire of any Chinese and any Taiwanese. Ask any Englishman and any Argentinian.
Friendship yes, flags no. Appreciate yes, euphoria no.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, March 07, 2014

Last modified: 2:29 pm Saturday, March 08, 2014

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