Not everything is a game of football

The Euro competition is a timely reminder of how much football fanaticism is engrained in our society. From hanging foreign national flags outside balconies, to standing up and singing with great passion the national anthem of a foreign country, and expressing hateful comments towards the opposing team. The us-versus-them mentality keeps our adrenaline pumping.

And it’s not only in football or other team sports. The level of fanaticism reaches sky high once a year in most towns and villages where more than one feast is celebrated, or where there are two band clubs. Mediterranean passion, coupled with the British influence make this unique cocktail of “Fanaticism on the Rock”, which, most of the time is harmless.

Trouble starts when this level of fanaticism, and the us-versus-them mentality is adopted in Politics. For although it’s all natural to be passionate about politics, resorting to fanatic comments each time you are faced with an opposing argument is wrong.

Treating complex political issues just like you treat any football match is not only futile, but also harmful to the political debate.

Treating complex political issues just like you treat any football match is not only futile, but also harmful to the political debate.

FATF’s verdict announced this week, was, as the majority believes, unjust on Malta. Efforts made by the Abela administration in the past year and a half are tangible and effective. Yet more needs to be done to convince our European and global counterparts.

But the level of discourse and analysis, or the lack of it, expressed on social media, is striking. Even an important issue such as FATF’s greylisting was turned into political football, with comments such as “l-aqwa li aħna fil-gvern” (what matters is that we’re in government) on one side, and “greylisted – glory glory alleluia” on the other.

And this is true for any article on any current affairs subject. The level of intolerance of eachother’s opinion is beyond ridiculous, especially from people who do not bother to click on the article but have supernatural intelligence of understading complex arguments by simply reading the headline.

Shouting ‘Viva Malta’ will not take us off the greylist. One mistake we shouldn’t make is to raise walls and enter into a siege mentality, where we regard foreigners and other countries as opponents, and spread an us-versus-them message.

That’s why it was comforting to hear Prime Minister Robert Abela saying that Malta will engage in dialogue with international experts and other countries in its efforts to be removed from the list.

As a nation, we need a paradigm shift in mentality. This is only possible through education – and even there we need a change in our approach. We must start producing free thinkers. People who are inquisitive and who take nothing as given.

We must get out of our bubble and realise that the world is a bigger place.

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Dr. Mark Said
Dr. Mark Said
2 years ago

The content of this editorial is spot on. Open-mindedness, rationality and good judgment is the way forward. It is precisely this that the youth section of the Labour Movement is trying to inculcate. Hopefully, we will one day transform and revolutionalize our conservative and ‘status quo’ mentality.