Posted by Lex, on January 10, 2007
It has been said that Old Europe, rising from the ashes of World War II devastation, used the game of soccer to divert their nationalist passions and as a substitute for their more or less continuous tradition of warring over blood and soil.
In today’s Washington Post, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi invokes the world’s most popular game as a reason for hope, and a plea for constancy:
(D)espite the chaos in my country, not all bridges of patriotism have been burned. Iraqis have ties to their beloved country, not only to their sects and ethnicities. Proof of this nationalism recently came from the most unlikely of venues.
During the Asian Games in Qatar last month, Iraq became quiet, if only for a few hours. Citizens united as brothers behind the national soccer team, which against all odds fought its way to the finals. The team didn’t battle for a militia or a sect but for an idea — the nation of Iraq. The players didn’t win the medal but gained something far greater: They won us hope. From children on the streets to politicians to parents, we were all one, and we were all Iraqi. This tells me that all is not lost, that a deep-rooted sense of nationalism still lies within all Iraqis, and that it can and must be rekindled.
I suppose we shall see.