I love this article, if for no other reason than it gives me an excuse to type soccer hooligan. We’ve delighted you with all the hubub regarding Muslim headgear (see CNN Asks Americans to Support Muslims… By Wearing Hijabs and Cannes, France Enforces Burkini Ban) and all its “symbolic meanings” – namely that women are subhuman and worthy of all the smothering. Preferably by way of blackout curtains. As such, we’ve mocked the religious garb(age) plenty of times ourselves but this one right here has reached a new level of Trollmaster.
Swedish government officials thought they had the perfect solution to curtail violent behavior by masked soccer fans — ban their face coverings. The new law, passed in January and enacted in March, was supposed to prevent extremist fans from “disguising all or part of their face so as to make it more difficult to be identified,” according to the bill’s language (via Sweden’s Local newspaper). To make sure the bill didn’t infringe on anyone’s religious rights, however, the law offers an exemption for “people who cover their face for religious reasons.”
Firstly, let us address the warpainted, jersey-wearing elephant in the room. Soccer fans tend to be a bit crazed. Especially when us Americans refer to the divine sport as “soccer,” rather than its rightful moniker: football. Sorry Europeans, but we hijacked that one because we hate you… And semantics. And soccer. The point here? Soccer fans have a history of being unpredictable. And by unpredictable, I mean setting stadiums aflame and punching faces. Hence the purpose of this law in the first place. It was meant to stop certain punks from punking it up behind a ski mask.
Most people would’ve been stopped right here, deterred by the “law” and such. But necessity is the mother of all invention, and what one person sees as a barrier, another sees as a fun hurdle to be jumped, then spray painted with certain anatomical symbols.
Enter these guys.
On Sunday, during the Stockholm club AIK’s season opener against BK Häcken, several dozen of AIK’s most boisterous fans — known as “ultras” — traded their masks for niqabs, the traditionally Muslim face covering that obscures the entire face except the eyes. To really rub it in, AIK’s extremists also unfurled two gigantic banners with a message for Interior Secretary Anders Ygeman, who spearheaded the legislation.
“AIK’s ultras mean well. We’re now wearing masks for religious reasons,” the first banner read.
“Freedom for ultras is the ultimate goal,” the second banner continued. “Thanks, Ygeman, for the loophole.”
Behold the ingenuity of soccer fans. Specifically, the men folk soccer fans who delight in symbolically raising their middle digits to the man hoping to squash their fun.
After watching some soccer fans enjoy a soccer game, can we really deny them the religious explanation? After all, the pitch is their church. The keeper, their priest. Sure, we’re no fans of rioting soccer zealots. Alas, this is Swedish football. Remember them in the World Cup? Exactly. No Messi’s have come from Sweden and all the Zlatan’s left. Perhaps the games aren’t as riveting as the fans would prefer, so it appears they’ve found alternative methods of entertainment…
Regardless, the ultras managed to hilariously display the special treatment applied to Muslims, so kudos to them. I believe the proper expression here is “game respects game.”