Football Sports

Why the world cup of politics is more important than ever before: the honour of Putin

During the football world cup in Russia do not want only the players to score. With the organization of the biggest sporting event in the world, Russian president Vladimir Putin is not only the image of his country on the international stage, up-grading, but also a message to send to its own population. “He wants the people back trust and pride”, explains Russia-specialist Aude Merlin, ULB.

The Olympic Winter games in Sochi in 2014, the world championship of swimming in 2015, the world championship in ice hockey in 2016: Russia has in recent years repeatedly acted as a host country for international sporting events. The use of sport as a political and social lever was already in the soviet era are oversized a proven way, explains Merlin. “At the time of the Cold War, people wanted the superiority of the socialist to the capitalist camp to demonstrate. There was much invested to give an impressive image of the country outline and the Soviet achievements in that area in the paint: the access of people to sports and promote a healthy lifestyle”, says the expert.

Confidence and pride

If it is the mission of Putin to bring Russia back on the map after the fall of the Wall and its chaotic aftermath, then sport is definitely one of the weapons in the arsenal. “The boss of the Kremlin want the image and the place of Russia in the world of apple, both on a geopolitical level, but also on other domains, such as sports. But it is also a message to the population: he wants the people back trust and pride. So it is certainly no coincidence that the Russian authorities many efforts have done for the Olympic Winter games in Sochi,” says Merlin.

That strategy seems to be a support to have. According to a published Monday poll by the independent study centre Levada is 53 percent of the population, won for the organization of major global events. “The symbolic value is at this moment more important than the tangible tangible effects. This trend can already be seen since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. For the majority of the population is the image of the country and the national pride is more important and plays the financial picture a tweederangsrol. The people are willing to sacrifice in terms of purchasing power parity or private life, benefiting to the grandeur of the country”, continues the Russia-expert.

The refrigerator or the television

That does not mean that a part of the population not hot runs to the world Cup. Critics cloth the colossal amounts invested in it, money that does not goes directly to the population. According to Levada is 22 percent of the population rather against the organisation of such events and 13 percent are outright opposed. Merlin refers to the statement of Lev Goudkov, director of the Levada. “It is the dilemma between the refrigerator and the television: a majority of the population seems to be more sensitive to the message that the Kremlin via the tv wants to send out for a slightly less stocked fridge.”

Diplomatic boycott?

For heads of state and political leaders elsewhere in the world, is a football championship in the Russia of Putin no evidence. Since the attack on the Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury echoed here and there the call of the voetbalfeest to boycott. The British prime minister Theresa May had already understood that her government is not present in Russia, a decision which got imitation in Iceland.

“It is a complicated case. Any country that is not the world Cup diplomatic will boycott, will do that in function of his own interests. On the one hand, Russia is a country that violates human rights, on the other hand, threatens a boycott of this kind of events regard as a lack of respect for the athletes.”

“By the way, the Russian powers that be have that kind of tension is increasingly used for internal use: isolation on the international level is used internally to the pride to boost. ‘Look, yet not unmarked, Russia represents the good’, that is the message that Putin, his people give,” concludes Merlin.

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