Congrats, Lions of Mesopotamia! 2-1 over Egypt’s Pharoahs. June 27th 2012.
Category Archives: iraq soccer
Yesterday the Gulf Cup soccer/football tournament opened in Aden, Yemen. The UAE and Iraq tied 0-0 in the first bout.
Meanwhile, in China, Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum of the UAE won a silver medal in individual showjumping. For people who like to bark about how badly women are treated in the Arab world, I’ll add that she was competing against men. Wearing tight pants, to boot.
Riding Kalaska De Semily, the 1998-born stallion, she jumped two clear rounds with no penalty points. She challenged the Saudi Arabian riders Prince Khalid Abdul Aziz Al Eid and Ramzi Hamad Al Duhaimi in the jump-offs to decide the final medallists.
Story in the BBC News online.
Forced by violence at home to play all its games abroad, the Iraqi national side ended its six-year exile on Friday in the northern city of Irbil.
Fans who had followed the fortunes of their team on TV roared deliriously as they saw the first players jog on to the pitch.
Chants of “Iraq, Iraq” rang through stands which felt, in the blazing afternoon heat, like the rim of an exploding volcano.
“Sport was under sanctions,” yelled Iraq’s most famous football fan, a man from Baghdad known only by one name, Khaddouri. “Now the embargo has been lifted.”
Iraq’s national team is a regional superpower. Traditionally one of the strongest sides in the Middle East, in 2007 they were crowned Asian champions after defeating Saudi Arabia.
The victory coincided with the climax of the sectarian conflict that engulfed Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. Fans celebrated in the streets, briefly defying the threat of bombings that had become a daily norm.
The Palestinian team is one of the weakest in the region. It has developed fitfully, with the movements of its players constantly curtailed by the conflict with Israel.
At the game in Irbil, no Iraqi fans commented on the footballing disparity between the two teams. Instead, they focused on what they saw as a bond with the Palestinians – another Middle Eastern society brutalised by violence.
As the visiting team stepped on to the turf, the stadium loudspeakers urged the crowd to welcome them. The stands obliged, erupting in passionate cries of “Long Live Palestine!”
Parts of Iraq may now be safe enough to host a foreign team but the Palestinians’ home is not. Like the Iraqi side a few years ago, the players must ply their trade abroad.
With few away fans accompanying them, they rely on charitable cheers from the home crowd.
Adjusting the Palestinian scarf around his neck, veteran Iraq fan Khaddouri said: “The Palestinians are our brethren. If they can send their team to Iraq, so can everyone else.”
I’m such a sucker for a story like this. Amazing Iraqi national soccer team survives the brutal reign of Uday Hussein, the invasion and occupation, is forced to play abroad for years yet improves as a regional champion, returns to its homeland, plays a friendly game against another team struggling against harsh realities. I love to see patriotic Iraqis putting a lie to Bush administration brainless propaganda that they all hate each other and that Iraq would splinter apart along religious and ethnic lines. And I love that their first game was against the Palestinian team.
The Confederations Cup is underway in South Africa and I was pleasantly surprised to find that US television is actually covering it. I watched the full game between Iraq and South Africa. I won’t give the score here because I’m not a regular sports fan and I don’t know what the etiquette is on giving away the score of a game.
The sportscasters mentioned that the field wasn’t in very good condition. At least once it tripped up a player. And the for the entire game people were blowing on these air horns they had; I don’t know how they found the energy or lung power to do it, but it sure made it annoying to watch the game with sound on.
The World Cup is one year away and will also be played in South Africa.
And here’s what Younis Mahmoud looks like without his nose squished:
Aw, he’s so patriotic he tattooed Iraq onto his arm.
I noticed during today’s game that the Iraqi players had their first names instead of their last names on the back of their jerseys. This doesn’t entirely surprise me because I’ve seen a phone book from the Arab world that was alphabetical by first name, but I am a little surprised because I thought FIFA would have a last-name-only rule.
Iraq’s next games are on Wednesday against Spain and Saturday against New Zealand. ESPN2 is supposed to carry them.
During a soccer match between the teams Buhairat and Sinjar in a small town near Baghdad, a fan shot a forward in the head, killing him, just he (the forward) was shooting on goal.
The police arrested the shooter immediately. The news article didn’t give the name of the player.
Arabic story here.
English story here.
Update: An alert reader sent me this link from the New York Times, which gives a completely different story. In the NYT story, a goalie was shot to death, by accident, after a policeman fired celebratory bullets, after the game was over.
Really makes you wonder what really happened.
The NYT couldn’t resist adding this, to make it all sound more exotic and primitive:
The family of the goalie was demanding so-called blood money from the officer, the police said.
How completely unlike us those barbarians are! Here in the US, we don’t ask for anything as sanguinary as “so-called blood money.” Here we hire lawyers to sue the policeman, the police force, the stadium, and the city for as many millions as we can possibly get. That’s what makes us civilized. *rolleyes*
I actually learned two English words from the Hans Wehr dictionary: bloodwite and wergild. Those are the English words for “blood money,” a fixed amount of money paid as compensation for a person’s death.
Iraq lost to Qatar and won’t be playing in the World Cup.
So now China is out of the running.
Iraq beats Australia 1-0 in their second matchup.
Congratulations, Socceroos. Things aren’t looking too good for the Iraqi team, which plays Australia again this weekend.
In the meantime, Australia just withdrew the last of its troops from Iraq.
International Herald Tribune article sheds some light.
Sunday’s game, and the return leg against Iraq in Dubai on June 7, was in jeopardy because FIFA threatened to expel the Iraqi team unless its government backed down from its reported disbanding of the country’s National Olympic Committee and all the sports federations involved with it.
This was unlawful according to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, a Swiss.
“It would be a great shame if the reigning Asian Cup champion was suspended from World Cup qualifying,” reiterated Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari who is reshaping the Asian confederation as its president. “But it would send a strong message to governments who tried to interfere in the running of the national sports associations.”
The Iraqi government said that the country’s Olympic Committee was unconstitutional because elections had not been held for five years, the committee’s chairman was missing, presumed kidnapped or dead, and other committeemen had fled the country. The sports ministry promise that legitimate elections would take place for an independent Olympic body within three months.
Oh yeah, the chairman who’s missing, presumed kidnapped or dead. Holy cow.