Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Having Issues

Last couple of days I watching World Handball Championship match. Many of them were interesting but few are going to be as important as tomorrow's match between Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro.

Both teams are favourites, both teams are playing very well and they share a history, much of it having a little to do with a game itself. Verbal spats between Croatian and Serbian-Montenegrin fans have already been reported. Fact that the game more-or-less decides which one of two teams is going to semi-finals only adds to the dangerous mix. Everyone thinks that the match is going to be a textbook example of what contemporary Europeans call “high risk sporting event”.

In the meantime, I noticed an interesting thing during yesterday’s match between Norway and Sweden. One of the fans was carrying sign “1905. 2005?”

Those more familiar with Scandinavian history know that Norway won its independence from Sweden in 1905. It was done in a bloodless way and, just like Czechoslovakian velvet divorce, it is hailed as a proper method for multi-ethnic states to end.

However, the sign at the game shows that even Scandinavia, region which, due to the lack of ethnic and other armed conflicts in past few centuries, could be described as the anti-thesis of Balkans, has people with Issues.

If Norwegian-Swedish split of 1905 – an event only those more familiar with European history can recognise - can be (ab)used on the sports stadiums today, any thoughts about the effects of recent Croatian and Serbian history and its long-term effect on international sports events are going to be very disturbing.


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