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    Without a Referee, Cheating will Persist

    As our country’s leaders took to the soccer field on Tuesday to commemorate the end of the 1975-90 Civil War and encourage Lebanese unity, neither their enthusiasm nor their intentions could be disparaged.

    Our politicians hope to prove that if they can be united on the field of sport, they can be united in governing the country. But while the analogy is fine in theory, for any game to work – be it sporting or political – both sides need to know the rules.

    It is not enough to have a strong defense, a hardworking midfield and skillful attack – a soccer game becomes a soccer game when all 22 players on the field know the rules and adhere to them. The Lebanese state has all the components necessary to appear as though the game is being played correctly: it has opposing sides, with skillful players on each, it has some of the facilities and the appearance of order, but with no overruling authority to decide the rules, the façade often falls to reveal our political system for what it really is.

    And although it may be true that our political system has skillful players, it is how they play within these rules that defines them as great, it is the yardstick with which we compare them. Soccer fans will remember the famous goal scored by Diego Maradona with his hand in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, but it is the goal he scored without cheating in the same game that earned him the label as the greatest player of all time.

    In a soccer game, the rules are clearly defined and administered by a referee with unconditional authority, with the occasional, petulant outburst aside. In Lebanese politics, we lack an independent judiciary that can play the role of the referee and ensure that the rules are observed. A referee can prevent players cheating, just as an independent judiciary can prevent corruption. A referee can arbitrate between quarreling players, just as an independent judiciary can arbitrate between quarrelling politicians.

    A love of soccer is something that all Lebanese can agree on, and the aims of Tuesday’s event were nothing if not admirable. One could argue that there is no better way to commemorate the end of the Civil War than to encourage unity among the Lebanese population, and today at least, our politicians set a fine example, if not for their dexterity on the pitch than for their gumption.

    However, this call for unity is empty without concrete actions by parliament to ensure progress toward a more functional state. We take this opportunity to say that without the rules of the game being clearly defined and implemented by an independent judiciary, the soccer game that is Lebanese politics will never be more than a game in the park.

    The Daily Star

    One response to “Without a Referee, Cheating will Persist”

    1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tajaddod Youth . Tajaddod Youth said: Inspired by yesterday's #soccer game, great Daily Star editorial: Without a Referee, Cheating will Persist http://bit.ly/93MCln […]

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