Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Some Bad News for Iraqi Football (Soccer)

Before I start my rant for today, I would like to give you some background information about Football in Iraq.
Football is the number one sport in Iraq, by far; it outstrips any other sport in popularity. In the 70’s and 80’s Iraq produced some of the best and strongest teams ever to grace Arab and Asian football fields. Then came the war in Kuwait, and Uday’s ever increasing involvement with the football setup. It was a long and bloody nightmare for this sport, just like it was for Iraq, and Iraqis as well.

Anyway, I read a few days back about Mr.Adnan Hamad (Iraq Olympic football team coach) deciding to accept an offer from the Lebanese to train their national and Olympic outfits. Adnan Hamad holds a special place in the psyche of Iraqi footballing fans. In the year 2000 he coached the Iraqi youth team, which won the Asian cup held in Iran, on their way, the Iraqis beat the 3 top teams in Asia, the South Koreans, Iranians, and the Japanese in the final. This win was the first after a barren spell of more than a decade where Iraq has won nothing due to lack of investment and Uday. The amount of general good feeling this win generated was immense. We were absolutely proud of this achievement; we beat teams, which spent millions on their teams, while we were operating on a shoestring budget. Hamad also went on to coach a couple of Iraqi teams, which won some Arab cups later on.

The Iraqi Olympic team will start the Athens qualifiers in just over 1 month, and we have lost one of our brightest managers. I know that it is not safe in Iraq these days, and he has every right to seek employment somewhere else to earn his living, and guarantee his future. But we are talking about somebody who is not ordinary, lots of people look up to him. What kind of message does he send, when he decides to pack his bags and disappear? Why was he allowed to leave? Shouldn’t the people responsible at least attempt to keep him? To date, nobody has answered these questions.

Mr.Adnan Hamad, I wish you all the best in your new adventure, and achieve the highest standards you are capable of. I know that you will not do much, not because you are lacking, but football in Lebanon is schoolboy’s stuff. I will never forget the feeling of happiness, and pride we went through, while watching our team in Iran, beating all comers, it was simply fantastic. I’m sorry to say, you have let your players, fans, people, and more importantly your country down in its hour of need.

On a different note,there is an American lady who is trying to organise a fundraiser for the Iraqi football team, if you can help her in any way shape or form please do so. (Don’t get dispirited by the arguments going back and forth, the main aim here is to help the Iraqi football team)

BTW, Why do Americans call it “soccer”? Where is this word derived from? I thought the word football is more self explanatory, and descriptive?



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