FIFA Punishes Fans Booing China but Not Booing USA

The NBA isn’t the only sports league kowtowing to China. In soccer, Hong Kong fans’ protest against the authoritarian nature of China’s regime gets punished while in the United States the woke Left’s protests against our country are overlooked.

This month the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) levied a fine in Hong Kong after fans disrespected the Chinese national anthem during a game there. At the same time FIFA turns a blind eye when its U.S. member, the U.S. Soccer Federation, ignores or even rewards players disrespecting the U.S. national anthem and ignores fans booing members of the U.S. military.

The Associated Press reports that the fine against the Hong Kong Football Association was due to “fans disrespecting the Chinese national anthem before a World Cup qualifying game last month.” At the September 10 match against Iran, “Hong Kong fans booed and turned their backs when the anthem was played for their team.”

Just like in the NBA, the U.S. domestic soccer leagues for men and women feel free to demonstrate their “courage” by dissing the American flag at home. Plus professional U.S. soccer teams now allow supporters of a militant left-wing movement to fly their flag at soccer games in spite of league rules against use of political symbols at matches.

And, of course, when U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) player Megan Rapinoe protests the U.S. national anthem at games, FIFA is silent. The U.S. Soccer Federation went further, elevating Rapinoe after her anthem protests to be a co-captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team during the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year. (The corporate leftist news media celebrated Rapinoe as “the most courageous, open-minded social justice warrior American soccer has ever known.”)

When the U.S. Soccer Federation blatantly violated soccer’s Laws of the Game by placing a political image, the LGBT rainbow, on men’s and women’s national uniforms in international matches in 2017 and 2018, FIFA did nothing. According to soccer’s Law 04.5, “Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.” The 2019 report I wrote, “Let All Play: Yes to Soccer, No to Politics,” details the many ways the U.S. Soccer Federation and other teams have violated FIFA’s regulations by using the LGBT rainbow on uniforms. Yet FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee has done nothing.

On September 11, 2019, fans in Portland, Oregon booed during a soccer match halftime swearing-in ceremony for Americans enlisting in the military when they stated “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States.” Yes, that’s right, the Portland fans protested Americans joining the U.S. military on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) did nothing. And the NWSL did nothing in 2018 when Portland fans carried out a harassment campaign against Jaelene Hinkle, the Christian player who resisted the USWNT’s effort to coerce players to wear an LGBT rainbow on the national Team USA jersey.

On September 24, Major League Soccer (MLS) carved out an exception to its Fan Code of Conduct, which bans political symbols at matches, to allow fans to display the Antifa Iron Front symbol at MLS games for the remainder of the season. MLS already makes an exception to allow LGBT and transgender flags, i.e. political symbols. Meanwhile non-woke political symbols remain banned.

FIFA has a responsibility not only over soccer in Hong Kong, but also over the U.S. Soccer Federation. The U.S. Soccer Federation in turn has a responsibility to make sure the National Women’s Soccer League and Major League Soccer play by the rules. In sports the rules are supposed to be enforced with fairness.

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About Jennifer S. Bryson

Jennifer S. Bryson, Ph.D. is a Policy and Communication Fellow at the Claremont Institute. She lives in Washington, D.C. Visit her website: www.jenniferbryson.net.

Photo: Denis Linine/Getty Images

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