Muamba unites sports fans

2012-03-24 16:34

It did not come as a surprise at how the world reacted to Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest last Saturday as sport has always been a strong tool for world peace and unity.

The flip-side though, is that sport can be divisive as well as the recent tragedy in Egypt where a riot between fans of rival clubs Al-Masry and Al Ahly caused the death of 74 supporters, proves.

Sport also espouses a unifying spirit even in the most fractious of times.

This week, the football community clearly showed the unifying aspect of sport when clubs and players from all over the world conferred their support on Bolton Wanderers player Muamba.

He suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the field of play on Saturday.

It was not the first time that sports had shown its more humane side.

Football icon Pele once caused enemies in the Biafran War in 1969 to declare a cessation of hostilities because the football king was passing through their terrain and they believed killing him would be a greater humanitarian tragedy than what had already transpired.

Pele was so popular that leaders of the rival groups called a two-day truce, which meant that the war stopped for a few days so that the two sides could watch Pele play.

Chelsea’s Didier Drogba called for calm during the fighting in Ivory Coast when violence broke out after the presidential elections, claiming 3 000 lives.

Relations between north and south were still strained but, at Drogba’s suggestion, Ivory Coast played their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Madagascar in June 2007, not in the usual venue of Abidjan, in the south, but in Bouake in the north where rebel troops provided security, while government troops sat in the stands to provide support.

When Argentina hosted the 1978 Fifa World Cup, the hated military junta that ruled the South American nation promised a “World Cup of Peace” and instructed “all patriotic Argentinians to unite behind the national flag”.

The people did just that and for the duration of the tournament suspended their hatred for their government as they rallied behind Daniel Pasarella’s side.

At home, Nelson Mandela’s appearance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final wearing a Springbok jersey is regarded as one of the single most significant acts of fostering a common nationhood among South Africans divided along racial lines.

In Spain, fierce rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid were also united in wishing Muamba a speedy recovery.

His misfortune has also made people to forget about the racism allegations against Chelsea captain John Terry as all the teams united in conveying their messages of support to his (Muamba) family.

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