On February 7th, after scoring for Sevilla FC against Depor in a Copa del Rey competition, Frédéric Oumar Kanouté showed that some footballers know more than balls, and have the courage to show it. After his goal, Kanoute lifted his jersey over his head and momentarily he became Palestinian (see photo) and there to full global exposure inscribed was the verb PALESTINE in many languages (now they cannot say they did not know what was/is happening). For his efforts he wrongly got a yellow card, and is likely to be fined by the Spanish Football Association. If they fine him, they must be red-carded by us all. The word Palestine is under attack, and they can cut the player some slack.
ON the other hand, Kanoute is making a small sacrifice in comparison to the almost 600 Palestinians killed and close to 3000 injured. Kanoute knew beforehand that he would be yellow carded and probably fined.
The Palestinian embassy in Spain said that: “It is a very important step forward. Kanouté has proved to be a very brave person supporting our people in a public event. (…) Sportsmen are human beings and cannot suppress their feelings. They have the right to show their opinion on issues that attempt against human rights. All Palestinian kinds, who love Spanish football, must have loved his gesture.” Gesture that coincides with Mahmud Abbas visit to Spain.
I remember another reason I was proud of Kanoute. Although born in born September 2, 1977 in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon in France and having played at under 21 level for France he had a choice of whom to play for: Mali or France. He chose Mali, and has excelled as both a footballer and a person since. During the 2004 African Cup of Nations Cup he was joint top goal scorer for Mali and assisted his country to reach the semi finals.
On researching this short piece, I learnt that Oumar is a devout Muslim and contributes consistently to charitable courses, once bailing out a Mosque in Spain that run into a contractual troubles. Wikipedia says this of the player:
Frédéric Kanouté has been practising Islam since he was around the age of 20. This meant that his current club in the 2006/07 La Liga season, Sevilla, had to give him a brand-free jersey every match, because of the club’s sponsor (888.com, an internet gambling site): gambling is against the principles of Islam. The company, however, agreed to give some money to an Islamic charity in return for Kanouté wearing the sponsored kit.
His foundation says that it aims for “Tackling poverty through jobs & opportunities – Not handouts”. His Trust sees that the “endless cycle of malnutrition and disease maybe the result of poverty, but the root cause of poverty in rural Africa and Asia is a lack of jobs and opportunities.” Current projects include:
PS – footnote: at the time of publishing this article spectators in the match Osasuna – Athletic of Copa del Rey two days afterwards demonstrated their support for the Palestinian people by holding amongst others replica flags of Palestine (it made the news on TV).