The GuardianThe Guardian

We need to separate sport and politics. But also recognise that they’re inseparable

By Kenan Malik

13 Jun 2021 · 4 min read

‘Fans don’t want politics brought into football.” Many would agree with Tory MP Lee Anderson’s sentiment. And so, he carried on, in response to England footballers “taking the knee” before a match: “For the first time in my life I will not be watching my beloved England team while they are supporting a political movement whose core principles’ aim is to undermine our way of life.”

But, wait, who is it now introducing politics into football? Those taking the knee or those who insist that to do so is helping to “undermine our way of life”? Or both? And why is it that those obsessed with flying the flag suddenly find their patriotism so thin they cannot support the national team if players do a bit of kneeling? Or even cheer on opposing teams? It seems there’s greater loyalty to the culture wars than to the nation.

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