Anyone who thinks torture is a good way to motivate people should consider the Iraqi national soccer team. During Saddam Hussein’s reign, Saddam’s son Uday used torture as a motivational tool. Since Uday’s timely death, Iraq’s soccer team has done better than ever.
First it placed fourth in the Olympics, higher than it had ever placed before.
Today it has won the Asian Cup, beating Saudi Arabia, a three-time Asian Cup winner.
Iraqis welcomed the victory as a chance to show the world they can come together and expressed frustration that their politicians couldn’t do the same.
“Those heroes have shown the real Iraq. They have done something useful for the people as opposed to the politicians and lawmakers who are stealing or killing each other,” said Sabah Shaiyal, a 43-year-old policeman in Baghdad. “The players have made us proud, not the greedy politicians. Once again, our national team has shown that there is only one, united Iraq.”
Iraqi politicians were quick to try to take advantage of the win.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office issued a statement congratulating the team and said each member would receive $10,000 for their achievements. The Shiite leader’s office said earlier that it had planned to send a Cabinet delegation to the game, but had problems getting overflight permissions from countries it would have to cross en route to Indonesia.
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said celebratory gunfire was religiously prohibited to protect lives and spare people from being terrified, according to an official at his headquarters in the city of Najaf. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Incidentally, the Iraqi national soccer team is comprised of Sunni, Shi’a, and Kurdish individuals.
Congratulations, Iraqi soccer team. I’m so happy you won.