How soccer can save the world

Vincent Burke writes Re. “I despise the World Cup, and I’m not ashamed to say it” (yesterday). It’s unlikely that Bernard Keane expects us to take his rant about the World Cup seriously, and it’s hard to discern if he is making a comparative assessment of the various football codes. Briefly, does he support the thuggery involved in Brian Lake’s appalling attempt to throttle Drew Petrie? How does he feel about the crippling injury sustained by NRL player Alex McKinnon, described by a reputable journalist as the “unfortunate consequence of the cannonball tackle rule”?

The true football/soccer code may well involve some theatrics, but it requires genuine skill. Can anything beat the chest/volley goal scored by James Rodriguez or the superb volley goal of our own Tim Cahill?

Given it was one of your political correspondents who write this rant, can I inject another political perspective of the power of international football? Apart from the sheer beauty of the game as played on an international level, I was struck by the extraordinary high level of sportsmanship displayed between the players. The way two Brazilian players sought to console James Rodriguez after his team, Colombia, was eliminated from the competition was truly inspiring.

The rampant xenophobia and racism in Australia may owe a lot to the fact that sports fans here are besotted with a game (AFL) that is only played in Australia, and the same is true to a lesser degree with NRL. Britain has become far more multicultural and racially harmonious in recent decades. Maybe this is partly due to its local football teams inviting the participation of players from all over the world and because its football clubs participate in several international competitions each year. This international and cultural brotherhood may also help to explain why Italians are not vehemently opposing the influx of thousands of refugees from Africa to their country on a weekly basis. It may also explain why the French national team can happily accommodate several players of the Muslim faith.

I don’t know if I am wishing football — the real game — could overtake AFL as this country’s national sport or if we could simply learn a few lessons from other countries. We could start by not vilifying refugees and play a more humanitarian role by learning from the way European and Middle Eastern countries demonstrate their care for other human beings, while in Australia we tow refugees to any country willing to accept them. The most recent actions of our government in handing over Sri Lankan refugees to the authorities from whom they were fleeing should make us all hang our heads in collective shame.

Harry Goldsmith writes: Bernard’s Keane’s rant on the football World Cup and soccer tells us more about Keane than perhaps we would like to know. He’s an idiot. Why bother reading what he says on other subjects if his thought processes work that way?

A big difference between Israel and Syria

Matthew Goode writesRe. “On Syria and foreign loyalty” (yesterday). This letter is a classic example of anti-Semitism and should not have been published. Anti-Semites have long justified their anti-Semitism by claiming that Jews have divided loyalties. Any student of history who knows about the Dreyfus case knows this. In particular, the question of the treatment of those who fight in Syria is not about “loyalty”. It’s about those who train as outright terrorists coming back to Australia with jihadist ambitions and skills. There is no fear of Jews doing this — nor has there been in living memory. This aside from the making of outrageous allegations of moral equivalence between the IDF and jihadist terrorists.