From Gold to Suspension: Josef Alami’s Battle Against the Taekwondo Federation

"A Career on the Line: Alami Speaks Out"

A Bold Critique Leads to Suspension

In an unexpected turn of events, Swedish Taekwondo star Josef Alami voiced strong criticisms against the Swedish Taekwondo Union (STU) during a live broadcast with SVT Sport. Following his victory at the Swedish Championships, Alami did not hold back, stating, “We have a very poor national team management that doesn’t take care of the athletes at all.” This candidness, however, was met with immediate repercussions as SVT Sport chose to terminate the interview prematurely.

Suspension Strikes

The aftermath of Alami’s outspokenness has been severe. He has been handed a one-year suspension, effectively sidelining him from the upcoming European Championships. The magnitude of this penalty has led Alami to contemplate the end of his illustrious career. In an interview with Sportbladet, he expressed his disillusionment, pondering whether a career in taekwondo is worth pursuing under such circumstances.

STU’s Defense

In response to the controversy, the Swedish Taekwondo Union (STU) issued a statement justifying Alami’s suspension, citing previous incidents of misconduct. The Union highlighted Alami’s history of unacceptable behavior, including leaving the team during the European Games without notifying leaders, illicitly taking national team apparel meant for others, and refusing to be photographed with the Swedish flag, which he controversially compared to the flag of IS in verbal communications.

The Underlying Issue of Silence

Critics have accused the STU of fostering a culture of silence, where athletes fear repercussions for expressing their opinions. While STU insists on the importance of athletes representing Sweden and the Union positively in public and competition settings, this incident raises questions about the balance between organizational representation and individual freedom of speech.


Josef Alami: “I will probably quit. It’s not worth it… An entire year’s suspension for two or three sentences. What would have happened if I had said more?”

STU’s Response: “It is a reasonable reaction from our side… The reason given for refusing to photograph with the Swedish flag was that it was a religious symbol (the cross) and they also compared the Swedish flag with the IS flag in verbal communication.”

STU on Culture: “It stands Alami free to talk to the media, but national team and competition contexts must not be used as a podium for personal opinions, in accordance with the competition regulations.”

This saga not only highlights the challenges athletes face in navigating their relationships with governing bodies but also poses significant questions about the limits of free speech within the sporting arena.

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