After 11 years on the sports team as a coach, volunteer and hobby player, Jon Peder Samdal (44) is now retiring.
The club he belonged to some time ago joined the #STOP campaign, which says no to racism, sexism, homosexuality and all other forms of discrimination.
As a Christian, I cannot be part of a society where I have to support the values that are conveyed through the rainbow flag.
Samdal emphasizes that first of all he has nothing against the #STOP campaign itself. However, it’s the use of the rainbow color in flags and captain’s ties that he sees as problematic, which is what prompted him to withdraw himself and his family from the sports team.
Experience the symbolism of the rainbow as exclusive.
It is taken as a symbol that we must gather around, but then everyone must be able to join in. Pride and rainbow flags both speak of love and inclusion, as does the Christian faith. But you put a lot of different things into concepts, Samdal tells TV 2, before he explains:
For me, it becomes too naive to refer to it as love and inclusion, as something everyone should support. Because we put a lot of different things into concepts. As a Christian, I cannot be part of a society where I have to support the values that are conveyed through the rainbow flag. Then I think especially of this that applies to the standards decision regarding gender and sexuality, says Samdal.
He wrote a reader’s post and appeared in the local newspaper where he shared his views on the symbolism of the rainbow. Then there was a disturbance. The newspaper ended up republishing the issue online, and the article was also pulled from social media due to too much activity in the comments section.
– I’ve never been on Facebook and kept sharing opinions myself, but we were able to reproduce something from others afterwards. There are obviously many who think a lot about me and us as a family, which is not nice, Samdal thinks.
– The reason I popped my head
Samdal is still ready to stand up to the storm.
– There will be something almost totalitarian about it, and you should not be allowed to have a different opinion. When you dare to say no, you are described as a bit stupid and evil. Soon it is tested as stressful, which is why so few people dare to express their opinions. Most people would probably prefer to hide away when this problem arises, even if you don’t agree with the rainbow’s symbolism and don’t think it’s okay, he sighs, and says:
– That was one of the reasons why I had to stick my head out. There are also others who think the symbolism of the rainbow is a problem, he says.
– Do you understand the counter-arguments mainly related to stopping all forms of discrimination?
– Yes, and I can say that this is an important topic here. It is simply a matter of respecting each other as human beings, no matter who you are and what you have done. He asserts that the type of incitement that was carried out against homosexuals, where insults were used in football matches from the stands and so on, is absolutely okay.
However, the former age-limited football coach and hobby player believes there are other and better ways to combat emotions in sports and society than using rainbow flags and rainbow captains.
This is first and foremost something that children learn at home, in contact with other adults. It has to do with the way we adults talk about others. We must coexist in a good way, no matter what one thinks of others and their opinions, he says.
To me, it’s not acceptable that you have to apologize for your belief
The Christian view of life is so marginalized that there is no longer a place for us
The 44-year-old, who in addition to his regular job holds a 30% position as a Bible school teacher, hopes his views on the matter will be tolerated and respected as well.
– You should be allowed to have different beliefs. For a Christian view of life, this is what has been popular in Norway for many years, and on which Norwegian society is built. We started with schools in Norway so that people could read the Bible. But now I experience that the classic Christian view of life is so marginalized that there is no place for us, as in sports for example, a Bible teacher sighs.
– In a way, you are forced to wear symbols, which for me are deeply rooted in a completely different view of man and life. For me, it is unacceptable that you have to apologize for your belief. It firmly concludes that we will not.
He praised the dialogue he had with the sports team and “try to understand” his views. The club also received outside assistance from the Norwegian Sports Federation (NIF) through Special Counsel Havard B.
NIF: – It will not affect our use of the rainbow icon
NIF’s Senior Value Labor Adviser, Håvard B. Øvregård, strongly disagrees that the rain symbol ensures that the sport is no longer available to everyone.
– We don’t see any reason why the rainbow symbol should appear to be exclusive to people with Christian or other views on life. If anyone disagrees that we should make it clear that sport welcomes gays, lesbians and bisexuals, we have to admit that someone thinks so. But it will not affect our use of the rainbow symbol. We test that most people have the same understanding of rainbow science as we do, Øvregård tells TV 2.
He points out that one of the most important things about the #STOP campaign is that everyone feels safe in the sport.
That sport clearly states that we are not neutral towards discrimination, and that this is a topic that we cannot be neutral on. Either we are explicit in our reaction to discrimination, or we indirectly support the discrimination that can occur — and the insecurity that individuals experience — in society and in sport, he says.
Therefore, NIF will not make changes to the use of rainbow colors in the campaign.
– We use the rainbow symbol to indicate that sport should be a safe arena for everyone, and that this applies regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual, sums up Øvregård, and adds:
We know that sport today is not seen as as safe for gays as it is for heterosexuals, so it is important for us to make our situation visible through the use of the rainbow symbol, says NIF Special Adviser.
NFF: – Different perceptions and values must be respected
Alf Hansen, NFF Director of Development and Activity, responds on behalf of the Norwegian Football Association. He finds it hard to understand that some people may feel left out of the sport due to the use of rainbows in the #STOP campaign.
– It’s hard to understand that using the rainbow can be experienced exclusively, and it’s sad that someone experiences it that way, he tells TV 2.
– What do you think of people who have a different perception of the rainbow symbol and think this is a problem when used in sports, soccer and wide soccer?
We must respect different concepts and values. At the same time, it is important that sport take on a social responsibility and be an inclusive arena. Fighting racism, working for equal opportunity, discrimination and preventing homosexuality are very important values for sport. He answers that all Norwegian sports are united behind values.
Campaigns give us an opportunity to distance unacceptable behavior and attitudes
Hansen stresses the importance of social responsibility in sport. He has no problem defending the use of rainbows in the form of flags and captains’ bows.
It is essential and important that sport bear a social responsibility. We children and youth are the most important recreational arena, in an age when identity and attitudes are being shaped. Good forms are critical, and the sport has many people, both who take on volunteer assignments in popular sports, but also outstanding athletes. Through campaigns, we gain an increased collective awareness of important value and attitude issues. Campaigns give us an opportunity to distance unacceptable behavior and attitudes. Combating homophobia is important, and with the rainbow flag symbol, sport shows that it is for everyone and that everyone should have the same respect.
– Norwegian sport stands together
John Peder Samdal’s club, to which he has belonged for 11 years, believes it is saddening the former age-team coach’s withdrawal from the soccer group, and says the following in a public statement in an email to TV 2:
– Norwegian sport stands together when we say #STOP on racism, gender, homosexuality and all other forms of discrimination. This is what the rainbow colors symbolize. Sport shows solidarity and support for groups who feel – and experience – discrimination in today’s society, it’s a message we are proud to pass on. The colors of the rainbow are a symbol of inclusion, love and equality, it is sad that no one wears them. In team sports, there is room for everyone.
Samdal, who says he loves to play football, hopes to change it in the future.
– I hope one realizes that not everyone actually supports the use of tokens as they are used here. I play football with anyone, that’s not what this is about at all. But given the way it is done, and with this campaign and use of the rainbow flag, it will also be exclusive to many, concludes Samdal.
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