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NY Times Soccer Story Under Fire
The Guardian, February 15th, 2007 3:29PM



Guardian columnist Steven Wells hits out at a New York Times article from a month ago written about the Fugees, the rag-tag soccer team of Luma Mufleh, the inspiring Jordanian-American woman with a military mentality and a heart of gold. Wells says the Times story, which for weeks topped the paper's "Most Emailed Stories" list, paints the quintessential story of American immigrants overcoming adversity.

"It started with a front-page article in the New York Times. It peaked with reports of a $3m film deal. And it ended with accusations of ignorance, racism and sloppy reporting," Wells writes. What's he talking about? That Mufleh is a remarkable woman is not in doubt, but Wells says the simplistic manner in which the story paints Clarkston Mayor Lee Swaney as a villain is now being questioned. Swaney is portrayed as a xenophobe who wants to see his town rid of "soccer people"-the tag he attributes to the town's many immigrants.

At the end of the Times article, the Fugees, as the team is called, were in danger of losing their practice field. In an email response, an irate Swaney points out that that didn't happen and that he's actually "very proud of the Fugees' success". Wells also claims that Swaney's "soccer people" quote was taken completely out of context. Read the original story...

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