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The Iraqi soccer 'parable'

Rod Nordland and Sa'ad Al-Izzi explain why FIFA has suspended Iraq's national team and recount the fascinating and troubling history of the Iraqi national team, which "has certainly endured hardship. Saddam Hussein had players beaten after losses. And the war that deposed him forced them into exile, after extremists started killing sports figures. Their first game at home in years was just this summer - against the Palestinians, the only team willing to come here during a war." FIFA is charging government interference with national team affairs. "This is not so much a story about sports as a parable of life in Iraq - another example of the inability of Iraqis to settle their differences. Although the controversy is not nearly as important as the continuing wrangling that is delaying national elections, it has its own poignancy. In fractious Iraq, soccer has always been one thing that traversed its sectarian and political divides."

Read the whole story at New York Times »

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