Tag Archives: soccer

Israel Imprisoned Palestinian Soccer Player for 3 Years with No Charges

Israel just released Mahmoud Sarsak after holding him for three years with no charges, because Israel can do that.

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Iraq Defeats Egypt – Arab Cup

Congrats, Lions of Mesopotamia! 2-1 over Egypt’s Pharoahs. June 27th 2012.

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World Cup Makes Me Foolish

What usually happens when I watch soccer is I have an irresistible urge to start playing soccer again. I think I can resist this time. But watch this clip. Goalkeeper scores goal incidentally. The other goalkeeper is a good sport about it.

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Women’s Soccer in Palestine

Yay, another underdog team to root for. I suppose it’ll be even harder to find their gear than the Palestinian men’s team’s.

The Palestinians were playing the Jordanians. But more significant was that the women’s teams were playing, and for the Palestinian side it was the first international match played outdoors at home.

In Al Ram, just north of Jerusalem, signs of the Israeli occupation are never far away. The stadium sits half a block from Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. Though it is made up mostly of a fence, barbed wire and ditches, here in this urban environment it takes the form of a high, seemingly endless concrete wall.

But at Monday’s soccer game, Palestinians came together in a more peaceful endeavor for the cause. Though nonpartisan, the event clearly bore the stamp of the non-Islamist camp that holds sway in the West Bank.

Watching over the players on the field were huge posters of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas. A couple of images of King Abdullah II of Jordan had been hastily added. Several dignitaries attended, including the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad.

FIFA, the international governing body of football, as soccer is known in most of the world, also sent a representative, in a salute to the Palestinian commitment to the sport.

Most of the women played bareheaded, though one Palestinian and a few of the Jordanians wore hijabs and tights under their shorts. The Palestinian team’s captain, Honey Thaljieh, 24, is a Christian from Bethlehem. The youngest player, Aya Khatib, 14, is a Muslim from a refugee camp near Jericho.

For such a varied cross section of Palestinian society, an unusual harmony prevailed.

“There are no politics involved,” said Nur Nabulsi, 17, a member of the Palestinian team. “We play only for Palestine.”

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Miguel Sabah, Team Mexico

It turns out I’m more interested in soccer than I realized. First it was just the Iraqi national team, and then the Palestinian team, and now I’ve watched the big World Cup qualifying match between the US and Mexico.

And what a game!

Anyhow, I went into it knowing nothing about either team and quickly noticed, “Hey, that guy has an Arab name!” That’s Miguel Sabah, who it turns out is a Mexican of Palestinian descent. And in my research I found some cool sites, People’s Geography, another WordPress blog, and Football Palestine, the unofficial site of the Palestinian national football team. I’m learning so much.

Not wanting to spoil anything for anybody who maybe hasn’t read/heard/seen the results of the game yet, I’ll just say that Miguel Sabah did his country proud.
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Now that days have gone by and I’m not spoiling it for anyone: Mexico beat USA, 2-1. Miguel Sabah scored the winning goal in the second half.

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Filed under arab, miscellaneous, names

Iraqi Natl Soccer Team Finally Able to Play in Iraq Again

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.

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Filed under arab, iraq soccer

This is Terrible

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.
Dang.
Arabic story here.
English story here.
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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.

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