Tag: "Middle East"

Pride of lions | Iraqi Asian Cup victory reminds a civilization what ‘normal’ feels like

Baghdad, Aug 9 | A triumphant march through the Asian Cup tournament in July contributed to the resurgence of the Arabic phrase Assood al-Rafidain (Lions of Mesopotamia) to refer to the Iraqi national football team.

“It’s a way of labeling them with this unifying and historic cultural icon,” says Newsweek Baghdad correspondent Larry Kaplow, who appeared on our Aug 7 podcast. Rising above divisions by ethnicity and sect, the Iraqi team, which trains and plays matches in Jordan, defeated Saudi Arabia 1–0 on Jul 29 to lift the Asian Cup for the first time.

Occupied territories | For Palestinian women, a field is a dream

Articles on the Palestinian Territories national women’s soccer team, on tensions at Heart of Midlothian in Edinburgh, on the run on £5 notes depicting George Best, and on the assassination of a Sunni Arab soccer official in Baghdad.

Frank McCourt recalls some hallowed turf | Readings for 29 November 2006

Articles by Frank McCourt on the sporting culture of his Limerick of youth, on further suppression of football-watching in Somalia, on Abbass Swan of Maccabi Haifa, and on reprieve for Iran’s football federation.

Hungary | Ferenc Puskás dies, aged 79

Articles on the death of Ferenc Puskás at 79; Hugo Sánchez‘s first statements as coach of Mexico; Ligo Revelacion in Decatur, Alabama; a grumpy columnist in Israel; and another study on sectarianism in Scottish football.

Field artillery | Bombings in kibbutz and Gaza represent new pitch invasion

Gaza City, Palestinian Authority | Some of the most contested, densely populated land on earth offers little space for football on grass. Even less so now that a massive crater remains near the center of the Palestine national stadium in Gaza City, the result of an Israel Defense Forces bomb attack on Apr 1.

Explosive sketch | Cartoonist draws threat for mixing football, TNT

Berlin | A provocative sketch by Der Tagesspiegel cartoonist Klaus Stuttmann, depicting Iranian footballers strapped with explosives, has thrown Germany into the imbroglio over caricatures seen as anti-Islamic. Stuttmann has abandoned his apartment following death threats; an image on the cartoonist’s home page shows him cowering beneath a manhole cover. Violence stemming from the images of […]

Berlinale | Festival sends soccer cinema soaring

Berlin | At least seven entries can be added as examples of world cinema’s interest in football (see our cinema page). All are currently screening at the Berlinale, the 56th Berlin International Film Festival. Gerd Graus, media chief of the German World Cup organizing committee, describes cultural connection with the sport as broad. The last […]

Supporters | Women welcomed to Prince Abdullah al-Faisal

Jedda, Saudi Arabia | Following evening prayers, Saudi Arabia and Sweden played a friendly match tonight with historic implications: for the first time, and after pressure from Swedish authorities, women were allowed to attend. The normally rigid gender separation in public was relaxed a bit for female Swedish supporters. “They will be allowed to watch the […]

2006 FIFA World Cupâ„¢ | Iran, sex, security and bad taste

Berlin | On New Year’s Day German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “skeptical” concerning pleas from some Green Party politicians to ban Iran from the World Cup finals (see Dec 15). Flames of controversy were lit last month when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made anti-Israel comments and publicly denied the Holocaust. Holocaust denial is a […]

Youth soccer | What if bin Laden had tried jihad on the pitch?

Jedda, Saudi Arabia | If a more robust after-school football program had been in place during Osama bin Laden‘s formative years, would violent jihad have seemed so attractive? The query poses itself in Steve Coll‘s New Yorker profile of the young Osama (Dec 12 cover date, also available online) as bin Laden gathers in the early […]

West Bank | Koreans assist in development of first pitch

Jerusalem | The first soccer pitch in the West Bank, in the Arab village of Issawiya, East Jerusalem, opened today. Funded by the government of South Korea as a contribution to the Peres Center for Peace, the artificial surface will form part of the Peres Center’s “twinned” school concept, in which Palestinian and Israeli school children, […]

Sports and policy | Iran and the World Cup carrot

Zurich | FIFA stanched cries from German Green Party politicians to oust Iran from the World Cup finals following Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s public denial of the Holocaust Wednesday in the southeastern city of Zahedan, Iran. Spokesman Andreas Herren said, “FIFA strictly separates sports from politics.” Ahmadinejad had earlier made anti-Israel comments, and while Green politicians […]

Advocacy journalism | Suan and Donovan find backers

New York | Among a gaggle of short essays in which Sports Illustrated writers tout candidates for the magazine’s annual Sportsman of the Year award, two support soccer players. Grant Wahl writes to recommend Israel’s and Bnei Sakhnin’s Abas Suan (see 15 Apr 05), who has used “his newfound stature in Israel’s Arab and Jewish communities […]

White flight | Birchall makes Trini history with equalizer

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago | A cracking goal strike from some 25 yards elevated Trinidadian player Chris Birchall into cult status Saturday, enabling the Trinis to travel to Bahrain for the second leg of their World Cup qualifier level at 1–1. Birchall, who plays for Port Vale of Coca-Cola Football League One in England, is the first […]