Sports stars can no longer plead ignorance. They have political power and must use it | Philipp Lahm

As the Qatar World Cup nears, football can learn a lesson from tennis: turning down money will make your voice heard

Sport is politics. There is no question about that at the beginning of the year when the Winter Olympics are taking place in Beijing and the World Cup in Qatar. You only have to open the newspaper these days. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Guardian, the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza and other quality media, which gather many voices to report on the world, deal on their sports pages with the diplomatic boycott of the Olympics by the USA, Great Britain and other countries, the “quiet diplomacy” of the International Olympic Committee and workers’ rights in Qatar.

One news item received particular attention worldwide. Out of concern for the life of Peng Shuai, the former world No 1 in doubles, the WTA has suspended all tournaments in China. In total, about 30% of the WTA’s revenue comes from China, with the annual finals in Shenzhen paying out the equivalent of about €12m (£10m), more than any other event in women’s tennis. But the players are now saying: we’ll do without.

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