Anorak News | Iraq Wins Asia Cup: 4 Dead And 17 Wounded

Iraq Wins Asia Cup: 4 Dead And 17 Wounded

by | 30th, July 2007

united-iraq.jpg“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting” – George Orwell.

IRAQ has won the Asia Cup.

It’s the Times’ lead picture story. Readers see the No. 7 bus to Acton stopped behind a crowd of flag-wavers.

“The safest place for an Iraqi to celebrate cup win: London,” says the caption.

This might be right. Although the football fans had best watch out for that bus and London-based Saudi Arabia fans hellbent on football aggro.

The Times surveys the scene at one end of London’s Edgware Road. There is “pandemonium” near Hyde Park. Car horns. Bongos. Chants. Yells. The every day made more intense.

“This is like a gift to the Iraqi people,” says Zaid Kadhum, 26. “We are so happy. After we won the semi-final, there was that car bomb and so many people died. There are people who just don’t want us to be happy.”

soldierscelebrate.jpgThis is London.

It is not Iraq. It is not the Independent’s front page: “Iraq: the human tide”.

The picture there is of a boy lying on a beach. He could be resting. But the story is of people on the move.

“Iraq: One in seven joins human tide spilling into neighbouring countries. Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War.”

Could any Iraqi hear of the scenes in London and not dream of escape?

But there is the football to delight. Says the Indy:

“Here was a team made up of Iraqis of all religious persuasions and ethnic hues at a time when the country hovers on the brink of civil war. Here was a team where every player had lost family or friends in the four years of internal strife. Yet, starting as the ninth-ranked team in Asia, the Iraqis steadily played their way up the order, beating the favourites, Saudi Arabia, 1-0 to win.”

In sporting terms alone Iraq’s victory is a story of odds-defying success. “Iraq united by football glory,” says the Telegraph’s front page.

No talk of London. But in Iraq: “The bursts of gunfire – a traditional method of celebration also used at weddings – was reported to have killed at least four people and wounded 17.”

And on the pitch, for a moment, Sunnis, Shias and Kurds in one kit celebrate success…

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