Sports are a great unifier in the world, but they can sometimes also be abused by certain groups of people to hide some very dark things. This is something that all the best Asian bookmakers, as well as all the great sports entities around the world, are aware of, but can do little to change, especially considering the power of some of these groups. At the end of the day, everything is a political tool for a government when they put their minds to it.
You may think that some types of entertainment are free of political bias, but if you believe that, well, you are wrong. That’s where the word of the day comes in: Sportswashing. It refers to the use of sports, especially great international events, as a tool to improve the “brand” of a country, often with the aim of distracting from or normalizing human rights abuses, corruption, etc.
A Dark History
This type of “Washing” is not new, it happened with the cinema in the 1930s, during the rise of Hitlerism, at the border of World War II, when the Cinema was the world’s main form of entertainment.
Back then, people used to see a movie at least once or twice a week, making the movie theatre a social meeting place comparable to bars and restaurants. Based on this culture, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, decided that this was a great way to propagate Nazi propaganda, and it was no different with sports. Governments all over the world use sportswashing to hide a nation’s flaws and problems.
Nazi Germany began doing this by hosting the Olympics in 1936. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the summer games to Berlin in 1931, before the fall of the Weimar government, and problems arose as soon as Hitler’s government started.
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Unions and groups opposed to the Nazis, from France to the United States, denounced that the Olympics would become a piece of Nazi propaganda, but they could not prevent it. The German government even invited key stakeholders to sweep in discriminatory policies, but, of course, them controlling everything so that nothing was discovered.
In 1934, an American athlete named Avery Brundage was invited by the German government to inspect the internal policies of the upcoming event. Supposedly, he was received with, and I quote, “the highest level of state hospitality”. However, the truth is that he was forbidden from meeting with any Jewish athlete.
Brundage’s visit was marketed in a way that conveyed the idea that Nazism would welcome anyone, despite its ideology, but this was all just for show. Brundage’s had a history of anti-semitism and belonged to a Chicago sports club that banned Jews. Everything was planned to give the impression that the Berlin Olympics could be held in an impartial manner, but it was all smoke and mirrors.
This dark practice continues to this day. During the 1978 World Cup hosted by Argentina, the sport was used to camouflage the moment when the military government pursued a policy of destroying dissent through arbitrary arrests, torture, and mysterious disappearances of any people who spoke against the government in power.
In 2014, during the Sochi Olympics, groups released several reports exposing the Chinese mistreatment of Muslims, as well as forced labour camps, mass sterilization of women, and arbitrary executions.
And finally, In the case of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup in the Middle East, they attempted to hide and change its image on the international field regarding their human rights record, alleged murderous homophobia, racial prejudice, and many other social problems.
Giant international events like the Olympics or the World Cup have always suffered from sportswashing, especially in countries with authoritarian regimes. They use sports to show a fake image of social and economic stability, while all the dirt is swept under the rug. This is an evil piece of the political game, and sadly, it will not end any time soon.
As sports fans all we can do is try to be as conscious as we can about these issues, and show these guys that we are no fools at all. And hey, if you are a fan of sports betting, here goes a tip, check out the top bookmakers in India, they are growing ever more and are a lot of fun to play at.
Best of luck and until next time!