25 Jul. 2007

The Beautiful Game

Against all the odds, Iraq's courageous soccer team (which humiliated Australia's big-money stars 3-1) has reached the final of the Asian Cup. Ironically, the Shi'ite majority Iraq will be playing the Sunni majority Saudis in the final. But even as car bombs reclaim the headlines in Iraq, such divisions are being set aside by jubilant citizens of all kinds. As a Shi'ite government employee said, after celebrating with Sunni friends he had not seen in years:
"None of our politicians could bring us under this flag like our national football team did. I wish that politicians could take a lesson from our team, which is made up of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds who worked together regardless of their backgrounds and won."
To my mind, this represents a victory for the ordinary, simple, decent people of this earth over the politicians, the terrorists, the militaries, and all the other faceless forces which shape our lives with so very little concern for our own opinions or interests.

There were typically humble words on offer from Iraq's goalkeeper, who made the match-winning save against South Korea:
"You know the situation of the difficulties in Iraq. What we can achieve inside the field, it's a modest thing we can give to our people."