Commentary

Kimmich and Beckham flout the risks of celebrity activism

Last week I wrote about how Bayern Munich's midfielder Joshua Kimmich  may not be the kind of bloke you'd want to have a beer with, but you'd almost certainly want someone with his winning mentality on your team, no matter how much his motivational mouth grated on your nerves. Following the weekend news that he's so far abstained from being inoculated against the Covid-19 virus, I'm no longer so sure. There's more than one way to be a team player.

The German tabloid Bild -- the kind of newspaper you'd think twice about using to line your kid's hamster cage for fear it would exacerbate the smell -- revealed that Kimmich had so far refrained from getting the vaccine, despite being a front man for the organization 'We Kick Corona.' Together with teammate Leon Goretzka, Kimmich received awards and plaudits for raising both money and awareness about the virus. One donation of half a million Euros went to UNICEF in order to provide vaccines for 132,000 people in developing nations.

Kimmich was interviewed on Sky Sports on Saturday evening after Bayern's 4-0 home win over Hoffenheim, where he stressed that he was neither an opponent of vaccines, nor a denier of Covid-19's very existence. It was just that he had "a few doubts" about the long term effects of vaccines. Which is his absolute right, no matter how dubious his science. Only, it's barely then credible to have been the public face of a campaign aiming to do the exact opposite -- encouraging people to get vaccinated.

"Long-term side effects of inoculations that first appear years later are generally unheard of," according to Klaus Cichutek, the head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute that's the regulator for vaccines in Germany. Side-effects from jabs, whatever the infection they're fighting, almost always appear and then disappear within hours or days of inoculation. 

Bayern's former chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for once hit the right tone when he said, "As an example to others, but also as a precedent, it would be better if he [Kimmich] was inoculated." Rummenigge's call at the start of the year for Bayern's players to be among the first to receive the vaccine was greeted with outrage -- how dare he suggest that already privileged professional sportsmen should be allowed to jump the queue. His justification -- that seeing such public figures inoculated would foster public trust in the vaccine -- seems with hindsight to contain some merit.

Kimmich's admission, at a time when his (inoculated) Coach Julian Nagelsmann has missed two games after contracting the virus, is now more likely to have the opposite effect. Around 30 percent of Germans remain unvaccinated, and inoculation rates are lagging just as infection stats are once again on the rise. Soccer fans have been allowed back into Bundesliga stadiums in increasing numbers over the past few weeks (depending on local state guidelines), and no one wants a return to last season's norm of empty stands. Yet without a sustained campaign of public health advice and responsible conduct from those in the public eye, it's hard to see this being anything other than a second long winter of over-stressed emergency rooms (see the UK, post-'Freedom Day') and restrictive measures.

The burden of being a prominent figure under the public eye has also been highlighted this weekend by the former Major League Soccer midfielder David Beckham, revered for years as a gay icon and known for being commendably progressive in his attitudes towards sexual politics. Now, though, he's thrown in his lot with the state of Qatar -- the venue for next year's World Cup -- to become one of its many sporting ambassadors over the coming years. That is, he'll be working for a country that, as well as oppressing women's rights, workers' rights and having a zero tolerance policy on dissent, deems homosexuality to be illegal. A punishable crime.

A spokesperson for Beckham told the UK's Daily Telegraph that the player has "always talked about the power of football as a force for good. As we reach the one-year-to-go point, he joins the wider football community that is coming together for the World Cup 2022 and he’s looking forward to what he thinks will be a great tournament.” That's also known as being 'fully on message for vast amounts of cash,' with another UK newspaper speculating that over the coming decade Beckham could earn more than $200 million from the Qatari state for his ambassadorial role.

All celebrities are to a large extent playing roles when they're in the public eye, be it for altruistic reasons or commercial gain. I appreciate that it's not always easy to do the right thing, or even to be seen to be doing the right thing. All we're asking for here is some consistency. Don't front a 'We Kick Corona' campaign if you're not going to get the vaccine. Don't pretend you care about LGBTQ+ rights when you're shilling for a brutal regime that persecutes and imprisons people because of their sexuality. If you're not bright enough to further the cause, shut up and stay out of the spotlight.

11 comments about "Kimmich and Beckham flout the risks of celebrity activism".
  1. Ginger Peeler, October 26, 2021 at 12:27 p.m.

    Without getting the vaccine, Kimmoch DOES take a risk of "Long Covid" if he should contract the virus. While some "Long Covid" reactions are very mild and disappear soon, some of the long term effects people are dealing with affect future health and, apparently, can last a long, long time. Go figure!

    Beckham has no shame (and, looks like, no scruples). I guess he'll say just about anything if there's enough money in it for him. 



    Thanks, Ian, for bringing this information to our attention. You do it well!!!

  2. Frank Coffey, October 26, 2021 at 12:53 p.m.

    Breathtaking hypocrisy on Beckham's part. No shame, no scruples is dead-on. For anyone who cares about human rights, Qatar is an anthamea.

    Kimmich appears to be your garden-variety Covid ignoramus. 

    Good work, Ian. As usual.

  3. Kent James, October 26, 2021 at 1:22 p.m.

    "Former MLS midfielder David Beckham" seems a little too focused on the US audience...as for Beckham, maybe he could redeem himself by donating the money ($200 million??) he gets from Qatar to LGBQT organizations in the Middle East....

  4. Ian Plenderleith replied, October 27, 2021 at 3:18 a.m.

    Heh, the phrase "former Major League Soccer midfielder" was written with tongue firmly in cheek. Good suggestion on what he could do with the (reported) cash, though.

  5. Kent James replied, October 29, 2021 at 11:17 a.m.

    Ian, I did chuckle over the phrase, so well done.

  6. Peter Bechtold, October 26, 2021 at 2:13 p.m.

    FWIW, top soccer players in Europe come from a similar socio-economic background as top basketball players in the US: Kimmich, like the fabulous Franz Beckenbauer before him, went from grade school at age 14 straight to the professional ranks. The odd college student, like Uli Hoeness, is an exception and not the rule.
    Whereas US basketball players "attend" high schools and at least one year of college--by rule now-they are athletes first and "students" second as is true in most revenue sports in Division I. if you look closely, they spent their "school" years mostly playing pick-up BB, just as Frank S. wants our soccer players to do. Do not expect them to know and follow "science". Media should recognize that and not ask questions of import.

  7. frank schoon replied, November 1, 2021 at 11:45 a.m.

    Peter ,what you say is right as far as the educational standards of European soccer players. Yes, these soccer players might not be familiar about science and  its logic rational of thinking, and leave the scientific thinking to the scientist , these so-called educated idiots, who have  brought this scourge upon the world.

    And what I find is more appalling are these so-called solutions propagated by idiots who act like the Spanish Inquisition towards those who express doubts about all of this. Remember, 'masks due  not work' and all of sudden  'you have to wear a mask' ;or how 'bout, 'you take both shots and you're set, no problem' ;and now we're talking booster shots....how many will we have to take of those. How 'bout those companies that create the vaccines can not be SUED.....I WONDER WHY??? are there some doubts?; 'bout those who have had adverse effects....DUH!!!

    How 'bout those political leaders world wide who don't have the guts to go after China and find out what really happened!, and especially our country who should take the leadership role to inquire about all this..Maybe, perhaps , our presiden Joe Biden will appoint Hunter Biden to go over there and find out.... 

    You bet, my RESPECT goes out to all of those who express their doubts and not follow like SHEEP and LEMMINGS ......






     

  8. James Madison, October 26, 2021 at 10:43 p.m.

    Bravo, Ian!!  Thumbs down on Kimmich for stupidity and on both he and Beckham for hypocrisy.

  9. stewart hayes, October 27, 2021 at 8:19 a.m.

    Kimmich is wise to be cautious about the vaccines for Covid 19.  There are serious side affects for young people that have been widely publisized.  At 26 he is in a group that has a small chance of Covid complications which make vaccine side effects of greater importance in his decision.  He is not formally educated that is true but I think he has street smarts that serve him well.  

  10. Santiago 1314, November 1, 2021 at 5:28 p.m.

    "Thalidomide Babies" Ring a Bell to Anyone.???... I'm Willingly Pfizer Vaccinated, so don't call me some wild Right Wing "DenyUR"... But, I'm still waiting for that article on the Pro Athelete who has Died from WuFLU.... Should be some NFL Offensive Lineman that have "Died" from it.???... Nah...Nope...Nada... If you are Overweight, "OverAge", with Underlying Health issues; "The Risk, is worth the Jab".... Otherwise, it looks like the only way we get "Over" this is Natural Immunity... Has anyone seen Study on "Breakthrough" WuFlu cases, involving the Non-Vacinnated, who have Gotten a 2nd Case.???... Was 2nd Time around Worse or Less Severe.???...Has anyone Died from 2nd Case of WuFlu.??? ...What are there Demographics.???

  11. Santiago 1314, November 1, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.

    As for Beckham.... He always was a Little "Bent".!!!

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