'Football is more important'

2009-11-24 20:07

Baghdad - Wrangling over Iraq's general election has triggered political uproar and dismayed US leaders eager to withdraw their troops but many Iraqis are more concerned with a ban on their beloved national soccer team.

For a moment in 2007, at the peak of the sectarian violence set off by the 2003 US invasion, the gunfire that rang out across Baghdad was the sound of Iraqis firing in the air in joy at their team's surprise Asian Cup win, and not at each other.

Last week Iraq was suspended from international soccer by the Fifa world governing body for what it said was "governmental interference" in the country's Football Association, the news saddening more Iraqis than a likely delay of a national poll.

"We're not interested in the polls. It's the same old story and nothing good will come out of it. Football is 100 times more important. It brings together Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds," said Israa Munthar, speaking for a group of three women out shopping.

A general election meant to cement democracy and pave the way for a partial withdrawal of US troops next year is unlikely to take place in January as planned, after haggling politicians held up a law needed to hold the polls.

Most Iraqis interviewed in central Baghdad on Tuesday said they expected little more from their bickering politicians but the Fifa ban was a real blow.

"I doubt there will be elections after the performance of these people who call themselves politicians. The football is more important, and it shouldn't have been politicised. It's the one thing that brings all Iraqis together," said retiree Mamdouh al-Qubaysy, sitting in a coffee shop.

Sectarian divides

Iraq's soccer suspension follows a long-running power struggle between the country's Olympic committee and the Iraqi Football Association. The committee has demanded the IFA elect a new governing board but the soccer federation refused.

At the heart of the dispute is an effort by Iraq's new Shi'ite Muslim-led authorities to wrest control of soccer from an association they view as dominated by sports figures from ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein's era.

Hussein's son Uday tortured some football players and other athletes for what he considered poor performances when he was Iraq's sports chief.

Parliament has also been stymied by sectarian wrangling between Iraq's new leaders and once dominant Sunnis.

Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi vetoed a law needed to hold the January polls on concerns that Iraqi voters abroad, including many Sunnis, were under-represented.

On Monday, lawmakers from the Shi'ite majority and Kurdish minority communities passed an amended law which would reduce Sunni voting power. Hashemi is expected to veto the law again.

Holding polls after January would violate the constitution and could hurt US plans to end combat operations next August.

"Whether the elections are delayed or not makes no difference. Iraqis are more concerned with the football. It's the one thing that brings us happiness and brings the country together," said Louay Kareem, a day labourer.

"In the elections, if one side wins, the other will always complain."

Read more on:    fifa  |  iraq  |  politics
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Food
 

The most extreme journey ever?

One man is sailing around the world in a beach cat - no cabin to sleep in and no GPS.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!
Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to focus too intently on outer appearance and beauty which hides who you really are. You are being challenged...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.