Thursday 22 February 2018

Comment - Floyd Mayweather dragged our flag through the gutter and no one batted an eyelid

Floyd Mayweather, left, taunts Conor McGregor by wearing the Irish flag during a promotional stop in Toronto on Wednesday
Floyd Mayweather, left, taunts Conor McGregor by wearing the Irish flag during a promotional stop in Toronto on Wednesday

Terry McGeehan

Just imagine if Conor McGregor had strutted around the stage of his Toronto press conference last Tuesday with the American flag casually slung around his shoulders.

Imagine if he had swanked about the place, throwing shapes, with the Stars and Stripes draped around him like a manky old shawl.

Imagine if he had squatted on the floor with it wrapped about, looking like he was going to the jacks.

And imagine if he had held up the emblem that Americans hold dear and invited jeers from the crowd.

There would have been uproar.

There would have been meltdown on social media.

There would have been official condemnation from every war veterans’ organisation, every patriotic society, every politician, and every sports body.

There would have been a seismic nuclear reaction from Trump on Twitter.

And Conor McGregor would have become America’s Number One hate figure in a matter of minutes.

But last night, it was Floyd Mayweather who did the strutting and the shape-throwing with OUR flag and invited the jeers - and no doubt some cheers too from the Irish contingent in the packed arena.

But that’s no way to treat the green, white and orange.

McGregor, himself, then flung the flag - out flag - across the floor as the scene descended into farce.

This is our national symbol that Mayweather was using like some kind of cheap prop for his pathetic publicity performance.

This was a stunt too far.

It’s ironic that on the same day - more or less - that Mayweather was abusing the Tricolour, loyalists in the North were burning it on their July 12 bonfires.

But we expect this sort of insult from them - not from a celebrated world champion boxer who has a responsibility to behave with respect and courtesy towards others.

Of course, we all know that this media preamble to the big McGregor versus Mayweather fight is basically a massive money-spinning publicity panto to create as much hype and interest before the main event on August 26.

It’s anything goes.

Let the insults roll.

The more, the merrier.

“It’s showtime” as Mayweather said himself.

The real business will be done when these two clash in the cage on August 26 and knock the wits out of each other.

But there is a fine line between showbiz antics and simple bad behaviour on a global stage.

And Mayweather crossed that line last night.

He wouldn’t have done it with his own flag, and he shouldn’t have done it with ours.

In an age where ‘Respect’ in sport is being taught to every child in every code, this was an instance of gross disrespect.

But possibly even worse than the sight of this multi-millionaire boxer behaving like a lout, is the lack of official condemnation here

It seems that no Establishment figure, no political leader, no prominent rent-a-quote is bothered about the fact that our flag - the same one that flutters proudly over our government buildings - is being dragged through the gutter in Toronto.

Is this what we’ve become - a nation that can be insulted at will and no one in Officialdom cares?

And let’s be clear here - Mayweather’s treatment of our national emblem is not the same as Irish sports fans waving the Irish flag where-ever they go in the world.

They hold it up with pride and respect - unlike Floyd Mayweather.

They drape it around their shoulders in an embrace - unlike Floyd Mayweather.

They revel in it and all it stands for - unlike Floyd Mayweather.

There will probably be some who will ask - “what’s the problem? Why any fuss? Sure it was only a bit of craic”.

And there you have it - some people actually have to ask what the problem is.

That just speaks volumes.

McGregor fights Mayweather on August 26.

Let’s hope Conor can emerge the winner - with the flag flying high over his head.

Online Editors

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