Soccer/Football Legends Revealed #6

This is the sixth in a series of examinations of soccer/football-related legends and whether they are true or false.

Let’s begin!

SOCCER/FOOTBALL LEGEND: The game of soccer/association football was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

STATUS: True

On April 23, 2000, three people died (and many more were injured) when thousands of fans pushed their way into a packed stadium in Morovia, Liberia to watch a World Cup qualifier match between Liberia and Chad. Less than three months later, on July 9, 2000, a dozen people died in a stampede following a World Cup qualifier between South African and Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In April 2001, stampedes killed 43 people in a match between the popular Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in South Africa and later in the month, stampedes killed 8 people in the Congo.

In May of 2001, police were called in when fighting began at the end of a match between two of Ghana’s best teams, Accra’s Hearts of Oak and Assante Kotoko, due to Assante fans throwing chairs and bottles on to the field in anger at the end of an Accra 2-1 victory. When police shot tear gas into the crowd, a stampede killed over 100 people. Just three days earlier, a fight broke out between fans at a match in the Ivory Coast, killing one person and injuring over three dozen more.

You might be wondering, “What is the point of mentioning all of this soccer-related death and violence from 2000 and 2001?”

I mention it because soccer/association football was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

First off, there is likely some confusion over what it means to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In the other categories like Literature and Physics, the Nobel Prize Committee solicits nominees from thousands of academics in the field of the respective categories. For the Nobel Peace Prize, however, the request for nominees is sent to international courts, governments, professors, former winners of the prize and members (past and present) of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. There are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of nominees for each category. However, unlike the Academy Awards and many other awards of its kind, the Nobel Prize does not have a “short list” of finalists of which one winner is announced. In fact, the other nominees are not announced at ALL for fifty years, when the records behind the given award are unsealed and open to the public. The people who are nominated do not even know it themselves typically. So then how do we know Soccer was nominated?

While the Nobel Prize Committee does not announce the nominees, they allow the people doing the nominating to reveal to the public if they nominated someone. And since a good deal of Nobel Prize nominations are done to “make a point,” they are often announced by the nominator.

In the case of Soccer, the person who nominated it was Swedish lawmaker Lars Gustafsson.

In the preamble to his nomination letter to the Committee in Oslo, Norway, Gustafsson wrote:

Although modern sport has enhanced the understanding between people of different races and religions in different countries, it has never been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Therefore, to put notice on and encourage sports ability to create positive international contacts, a contribution to a more peaceful world, I hereby nominate football, the greatest sport of all, as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001. I propose that the recipient of the prize should be the Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA.

After a brief history of the sport, he continued:

Taking part in the game of football, either as a player or as a spectator, is a way of expressing oneself in a universal language. With its common rules and principles of understanding, football creates a public meeting-place with no hindering boundaries. The game links people together from most nations of the world, from different continents and with varying history and culture.

As examples, Gustafsson pointed out how North and South Korea sent a unified Korean team to compete in the 1991 Junior World Championship in Portugal, well ahead of any formal diplomatic negotiations between the two nations. Along those same lines, Gustafsson refers to the discussions between North Korea, South Korea, Iran and Iraq to establish an Asia-qualification round for the 2004 World Championship. At the same time that politicians could not get in the same room with each other, sports officials were negotiating in a spirit of friendliness.

Perhaps nowhere was this dichotomy between political interaction and athletic interaction more evident than in the 1988 World Cup, when the United States faced off against Iran in the group round. When nations as diametrically opposed as those two face off on the field in a spirit of friendly competition rather than political aggression, then there really does feel as though there is a point to Gustafsson’s seemingly outlandish nomination.

The 2001 Nobel Peace Prize ultimately went to Kofi Annan and the United Nations (which is really odd, considering that Annan did not score a single goal in the 1998 World Cup), with Jimmy Carter taking home the prize in 2002. As far as I can tell, no sport has been nominated for the Nobel Prize since (although, again, we’re talking about a secretive nomination process, so it might have happened without anyone but the Committee and the nominator knowing – heck, maybe Gustafsson was not even the first person TO nominate a sport!). Amusingly enough, though, just earlier this year another interesting nomination was made for the Nobel Peace Prize – the Internet itself!!

Thanks to ABCNews.com for information about the nomination and to Lars Gustafsson for making his nomination letter public!

SOCCER/FOOTBALL LEGEND: The 2010 Champions League Final was held out of England because England would tax the winning players!

STATUS: True

The Union of European Football Associations’ Champions League Final (where the best European association football clubs are pitted against each other) is one of the most-watched sporting events in the entire world. It and the National Football League Super Bowl are neck and neck every year for first and second in overall ratings (we’re talking over 100 million viewers here).

So as you might imagine, hosting the Final is a nice boon, just as it is for cities hosting the Super Bowl.

However, for the 2010 Final, England lost out on the chance to host it in Wembley Stadium.

And why?

Because of taxes!

You see, British tax laws state that you must pay British taxes (which are pretty hefty) if you play a game on British soil.

The Italian club Internazionale ended up winning the tournament last year – they would have ended up paying nearly HALF of their prize money to England had it been held in London. The UEFA stated that that was why Madrid beat out London for the hosting rights.

In response to this, amazingly enough, the British Parliament actually AMENDED their tax law in March of 2010.

At the end of a technical document entitled “notes on budget resolutions” there is now a clause that states that Parliament “authorises the Finance Bill to contain provision to exempt certain persons from income tax in respect of certain income arising in connection with the 2011 Champions League final”.

And, shockingly enough, Wembley Stadium is the venue for the 2011 Champions League final.

Money talks, I guess.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL LEGEND: British World Cup fever in 1966 led to a Prime Minister being elected.

STATUS: False

You can see this is a number of places, but specifically I’m citing the British social research group, SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre)…

Sport’s impact goes beyond the day-to-day social environment of the workplace. Famously, Harold Wilson, following England’s win in the 1966 World Cup, claimed his subsequent election victory was in no small part due to the team’s performance and the wave of euphoria and goodwill emanating as a consequence.

I don’t know if Wilson ever CLAIMED that, but it certainly has gone into British lore as happening that way.

However, as you probably know by now, the World Cup begins in the Summer (in 1966 it was held from July 11-July 30).

Wilson was elected Prime Minister on March 31, 1966.

Soooooo….yeah, the election was not due to the British victory in the 1966 World Cup.

Now if you wish to argue that his DEFEAT in 1970 was due to the British disappointing finish in the 1970 World Cup, then you at least have a case, but not for his election.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

4 Responses to “Soccer/Football Legends Revealed #6”

  1. Harold Wilson kinda looks like Alfred Nobel…

  2. Brian, You have a pic of a nobel prize instead of where it meant to be Harold Wilson.

  3. Thanks, guys! It’s fixed now!

  4. Of course, Kofi Annan and his son’s corrupt handling of the “Oil for Food” program in Iraq killed far more people directly (from the food not being bought) and indirectly (From weapons being bought with the money), than all those soccer deaths combined, and was one of the justifications the Bush administration used for the 2003 Iraq war (though most people now seem to only remember the one about a high-ranking al Quaeda member (one that was on the outs with OBL – oops!) having been given sanctuary there). By all rights, the human rights abuses in Iraq should have had the second war occur in the late 1990s (without any stupid false justifications), but UN bureaucrats were getting rich of kickbacks and did their best to get any intervention effort by the Clinton and Bush administrations, before 2001, vetoed by the security council.

    The Peace Prize has a long history of being given to criminals, despots and frauds. Jimmy Carter is one of the few politicians who actually earned it legitimately (though ironically the reasons for the 2002 award fell apart within months of the award presentation).

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