01 November 2014
When Ramazan Kizil established Dalkurd FF, one of Europe’s most successful immigrant football teams, in a remote town in northern Sweden, he dreamt of one day raising the Swedish and the Kurdish flag alongside one another in a European championship. These days, Kizil’s goals are more immediate: aiding embattled Kurdish fighters fending off attacks by Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq, in the Syrian-Turkish border town of Kobani.
Kizil’s Dalkurd sparked anger in the Swedish Football Federation (SFF), and further fuelled debate within the international sports community about the relationship between sports and politics, focusing attention on the blowback of conflict in the Middle East and North African on migrant communities in Europe, when the club flashed a sign saying ‘Save Kobani’ during a recent football match. The club based in Borlänge, an iron and paper mill town 300km north of Stockholm, raised 3,000 during the match for Kobani that has been a focus of the US-led war on the Islamic State for over a month.
Against the backdrop of efforts by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bachto acknowledge the intimate relationship between sports and politics in a break with the sport world’s long-standing insistence that the two are separate, Kizil described his club’s support for Kobani in an interview withRudawas “human solidarity”.
…James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 03/11/2014