Football and war | Stray bullet invades soccer ‘sanctuary’

Manar Mudhafar. Link to LA Times article. Mudhafar

Journalism of stunning quality takes justified front-page position in the Sunday Los Angeles Times. Bruce Wallace narrates the shocking death of Manar Mudhafar, a player for capital side Al Zawra recently selected for the national team. At an afternoon practice on 30 March, Mudhafar, 19, rose to head the ball and came down bloodied and three minutes away from dying, a stray bullet in his throat. The death was accidental, the bullet perhaps originating at a nearby police station. “He looked like he had been stung by an insect,” said Al Zawra captain Haidar Mahmood. “I got to him and I saw it was a bullet and I ran away, because I couldn’t stand seeing my buddy dying on the ground.” Wallace uses Mudhafar’s death to explore issues of sectarianism and the fading of divisions among Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis in the professional and national-team structures of Iraq. The 1,700-word article deserves a close read.

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