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Emmy Griffin / November 23, 2022

True Courage at the World Cup

What true selfless bravery means when stacked against hollow virtue signaling.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ―former South African President Nelson Mandela

Mandela knew a thing or two about being courageous in the face of daunting adversity. His courage turned the tide of the oppressive apartheid in South Africa. Courage is a lost art, but it moves us deeply whenever we have the opportunity to witness it unvarnished.

The World Cup currently has soccer fans’ attention. That platform has provided the teams of various countries the opportunity to make statements they deem important in full view of their captive audience. Western countries and several European nations have decided take a jab at the host country of Qatar for outlawing homosexuality. Qatar, like many other Middle Eastern countries, is a religious Muslim country where homosexuality is a sin punishable by law.

The U.S. decided to redesign the USA crest on its practice jerseys with rainbow colors. The team will not be wearing the rainbow patch for matches.

England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland declared that they were going to wear armbands with a pink heart and the LGBTQ+ rallying slogan “OneLove.” FIFA, the soccer federation behind the World Cup, decided that any team or player who did this would face sanctions, not just fines. So all the teams backed down and released this joint statement explaining their change of heart:

We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play. We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented. Our players and coaches are disappointed — they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.

So much for their “courage.” They were worried about putting their players in a position of not being allowed to play, so they decided to back down from their bully pulpit. When “enlightened” elitists’ position actually costs them something, they back down in a hot second.

On the other hand, Iran and England played their first World Cup game yesterday. The Iranian team displayed an incredible act of courage and used the eyes of the world to protest the horrific regime in Iran that is squelching a people’s revolt sparked by the brutal murder of a woman for wearing her hijab “incorrectly.” Iranian team captain Ehsan Hajsafi spoke publicly before the game in support of the women’s rights protesters and lamented the lives that have been lost so far because of that government’s despotic response. The Iranian people are dying because they are daring to defy the mullahs. The soccer players chose not to sing their national anthem at the beginning of the game in a show of solidarity for the movement.

These players face the reality of being disappeared upon their return to Iran. This is what putting skin in the game really looks like. When the cause you are supporting is so important that you’d sacrifice your own life in the service of your fellow countrymen and women, that is true bravery. This is the Nelson Mandela brand of bravery that may help to change the horrible dictates in the Middle East. As political pundit Ben Shapiro put it: “Actual bravery: Iranian soccer players refusing to sing the anthem, and risking jail or worse. Fake bravery: Europeans threatening to wear rainbow armbands to the cheers of the media, then backing down the minute they were threatened with a yellow card.”

The contrast between the Iranian team and the European teams is obvious and stark. The world’s hearts should be broken for the people of Iran and their fight to shake off the menace that is Islamic extremism. Yet Westerners are likely to give more attention to the virtue-signaling bullies who are whining about the potential yellow cards they might incur.

That shows you just how unserious and cowardly they are. Their backing down also reveals that maybe, at the heart of it, they don’t really think that LGBTQ+ radicalism is something worth fighting for.

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