Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Soccer and politics

So the likelyhood that PRU will form part of the government coalition is receding.

Anti-NATO demonstrations in Crimea, and the elevation in some eastern oblasts and cities of the Russian language to the status of regional language are dominating the news. And in Moscow there's been renewed talk of Crimea being returned to Russia.

Is it naive to consider these matters are connected?

Is this a new strategy by PRU to seize power in the country by some kind of coup d'etat, or as a last resort, a forced splitting of Ukraine, as one observer suggests?

In the next few days Ukraine's bid to win soccer's World Cup in Germany, arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, begins. For the first time Ukraine qualified for the finals, and has several world-class players, so could do well.

Russia has failed to qualify.

Ukrainians across the country, both in the east and the west, whatever their political affiliations, will be 'glued' to their televisions, cheering on their national team.

Over many decades, it has been clear that success in this tournament by a country's nation team, has had a marked influence on the economy and 'feel-good' factor of that country.

E.g. West Germany's success and victory in the 1954 finals provided a historical turning point, helping restore that country's prestige after WW2. Victory for the England team playing at home in the 1966 finals, was a major factor helping the then government, which basked in the reflected glory of its national team, to be re-elected at the next general elections.

Sporting events in Germany over the next few weeks, apart from diverting attention from serious problems and challenges at home, will have an influence events in Ukraine. Success will be a boost for the President. However, success has many fathers, failure is an orphan..

No comments: