Tuesday, May 16, 2006
More Laziness from ME
Using Soccer to Kick Iran
By DAVE ZIRIN & JOHN COX
This article is available at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060529/zirin
The World Cup--the month long competition taking placethroughout Germany beginning June 9--is by sheernumbers the most important sporting event on earth.
Football--or soccer, as Americans insist on calling it--is by far the world's most popular sport, and theWorld Cup creates a near-united global audience. Approximately one in four human beings will view thisyear's final game. That means basically anyone who hasaccess to a television will be watching--thoughprobably fewer in the United States, where "soccer" isstill viewed in some quarters as a plot to create aone-world government. Politics cannot be separated from the World Cup anymore than it can be from the Olympics. Sometimes thisis for the best: For example, Africans throughout thecontinent exulted in Senegal's shocking upset of itsformer colonizer, France, in the first game of the2002 Cup. This year, however, German and US politicians haveseized on the tournament to intensify the saberrattling aimed at Tehran. Citing Iran's efforts todevelop a nuclear program and the anti-Israelpronouncements of Iranian president MahmoudAhmadinejad, several leading politicians in bothcountries have called for the Iranian team to be banned from the World Cup. In this spirit of tolerance and peace, Berlin's liberal daily Der Tagesspiegel rana cartoon in February that depicted Iranian soccerplayers as suicide bombers. Now Germany's conservative Chancellor Angela Merkelhas further stoked this sentiment by likening Iran'snuclear plans to the threat posed by the Nazis.Italian reform minister Roberto Calderoli of theanti-immigrant Northern League called on theinternational soccer federation (FIFA) to exclude Iranand other "rogue states," and in recent weeks BritishConservatives--perhaps distraught over their ownteam's dwindling prospects, after an injury to theirbest player--have gotten in on the act.
Back in Germany, some Christian Democrats havefurther upped the ante by invoking the specter ofIranian terrorism at the games, asserting that Tehranwill slip some suicide bombers disguised as regularfans into a game. Calls for a ban, or at least for atravel ban against the Iranian president, haveintensified in Germany as the games approach. LeadingConservative and Social Democratic officials are nowquoted almost daily decrying a possible visit byAhmadinejad. And in early May, a German newspaperreported that officials of Germany, France and Britainare hoping to orchestrate a travel-ban scheme throughthe European Union that would prevent high-rankingIranian officials from attending any of the games. In the most recent gambit, on May 12 a group ofEuropean Union representatives presented a letter toFIFA demanding that Iran be evicted from the games.
The hypocrisy of this quasi-extortion is overwhelming:Iran should be banned because its leaders indulge inbelligerent rhetoric and attempt to develop a nuclearprogram, yet no one advocates the exclusion of theUnited States, even though it is engaged in twomilitary occupations, in Iraq and Afghanistan, andPresident Bush has refused to rule out a nuclearstrike on Iran. Despite its drive to demonize and isolate Iran, theUnited States has been slower than its Germancounterparts to use soccer in this campaign, given thesport's relative obscurity here. But a few politicianshave craftily picked up on it. On April 6, SenatorJohn McCain, Mr. Maverick, introduced a resolution tothe Senate Foreign Relations Committee advocating aWorld Cup ban on Iran--a resolution that is sure to gonowhere. To its credit, FIFA has rejected all of thesedemands, and seems unlikely to budge. But much of thisanti-Iran campaign has less to do with the unrealisticgoal of banning the top-level Middle Eastern team thanwith grooming public opinion for aggression. Iran's blustery president seems less of a threat toIsrael or to anyone else than to the rights andwelfare of his own people.
Middle East expert JuanCole pointed out in a May 3 post on his blog thatAhmadinejad's overheated oratory is hardly the gravestthreat to world peace. Cole argues, "Ahmadinejad is a non-entity. TheIranian 'president' is mostly powerless. The commanderof the armed forces is the Supreme Jurisprudent, AliKhamenei [who, by the way, just reinstated a ban onwomen's attendance at soccer games that Ahmadinejadhad reversed in April]. Worrying about Ahmadinejad'santics is like worrying that the US military will acton the orders of the secretary of the interior.Ahmadinejad cannot declare war on anyone, or mobilizea military. So it doesn't matter what speeches hegives. Moreover, Iran cannot fight Israel. It would bedefeated in 72 hours, even if the US didn't come in,which it would.... What is really going on here is anold trick of the warmongers. Which is that you equatehurtful statements of your enemy with an actualmilitary threat, and make a weak and vulnerable enemylook like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one cancomplain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce hiscountry to flames and rubble." The Iranian people are even more enthusiastic aboutsoccer than most of the rest of the world. Iran evenheld a national day of celebration when its teamqualified for the Cup, and Iranian soccer fans lookforward to cheering their team on as it attempts tosurvive a difficult first round against Portugal andMexico. Perhaps the Iranian team will have anopportunity to repeat the squad's upset of the UnitedStates in 1998. But this would be little consolation if the Cup is used as a platform to further threatentheir nation with invasion or occupation.
"I would rather people built a clear wall betweensport and politics," Iran's Croatian-born coach BrankoIvankovic has said. But the Iranian people are beingreminded that, while soccer may be a beautiful gamefor them, it's little more than a political weapon forothers.
[JOHN COX is an assistant professor of History atFlorida Gulf Coast University and a supporter of FCBarcelona. DAVE ZIRIN is the author of "What's My NameFool? Sports and Resistance in the United States" andwants to fight for a world where soccer players canuse their hands.]
Bill Hicks said that, and I quoted him less than three seconds ago.
I don't enjoy the spectacle that is football. If anyone can name another sport where acting plays a bigger role in the outcome of a decision, I'll be the first to tug your shirt and kick you in the shins.
Basketball is not a sport, Bennyboy. It's a lifestyle. And it's one I'm not willing to commit to just yet. I'm waiting to scrape together enough income sos I can gets me corn roles to match my corn hole.
Take another! And another!
The fans in England are notoriously fanatical. It is somewhat embarrassing when travelling abroad, as we are known mostly for our empirical, hooliganistic ways.
The hypocrisy relating to the requested banning of Iran and not the USA pretty much reflects the state of politics at the moment.
Well, lets just look a bit a some others, shall we? Appears to be lots of kooks.
France's national soccer team top goalie slammed Israel on Thursday, saying he refused to travel with his teammates to a planned match with Israel’s national team next week because of the the Israeli army's actions against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesia refused to play a Fed Cup series in Israel in July and wants the women's tennis matches switched to a neutral country. Indonesia, home to about 190 million Muslims, has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has long supported Palestinian independence.
FIFA-the supposedly nonpolitical organization that governs the world's most popular sport, soccer — is getting in on the act as well. FIFA has condemned Israel for an air strike on an empty soccer field in the Gaza Strip that was used for training exercises by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. This strike did not cause any injuries. But at the same time FIFA has refused to condemn a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli soccer field last week which did cause injuries.
And from your own Toronto Sun:
Israel, by the way, has a much better soccer team than Iran or any other country in the Arab or Muslim world. The reason the country seldom qualifies for the World Cup finals is because the Arab bloc countries refuse to play against them and the Jewish state is obliged to compete against major European countries.
Read it here
Umm... watch that. Remember, the NBA, NHL and MLB are “international”. But we can certainly work on brining those teams back if that’s what you really want! Once we build that other fence up there we may want to keep those teams here anyway.
Ah, Yes. We note that Canada voted to extend the mission in Afghanistan.
Also, imagine my surprise, when hustling through the Metro here in DC I saw the poster “Boots on the Ground”. It appears that our neighbors from the great white north embarked on an advertising campaign to remind us “war mongering” Americans that the ‘nucks military efforts in Afghanistan have been a success. Read about the members of the Coalition of the willing. Even a web site to tell us what a great neighbor Canada is....
twas a mighty close vote on afghanistan. it's a tough issue. seems the wrong time to leave for Canada, as peacekeeping is more our thing. but it's not well planned, as usual with the military. no exit plan. we're copying US tactics at home: media ban on the bodies. if we can't see it it must not be real.