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Opinion
The World Cup in the Middle East

The World Cup in the Middle East

Published June 16, 2010

None of the Middle Eastern nations made it into this World Cup, yet the football loving region is following the tournament avidly. Here are three links. I especially recommend the first one.

“Well, Beirut had two teams. As can be seen on the streets, we have become more plural, more colorful. When I was growing up, and for a long time thereafter, there existed only Brazil or Germany. In Rome, supporters of Roma tended to be more city folk, whereas the suburbs favored Lazio—not so in Beirut, where the Brazil-Germany division threaded across all lines—lines of location, sect, income, social status, and sex. Yet the line, the divisiveness, was just as demarcated, if not more so, than the Christian-Muslim, Shiite-Sunni, Papist-Orthodox, or bourgeois-proletariat. Dividing lines in Beirut make a Jackson Pollock painting look like elementary geometry.”

Beyond the Line

In a first for Bethlehem, local restaurant owner and avid football fan Joseph Hasboun has been projecting every night game of the World Cup onto the wall facing his eatery, the Bahamas Sea Food Restaurant, located just a few hundred yards away from the city’s main checkpoint.
Israel built the barrier along the West Bank to keep out Palestinian attackers, including suicide bombers. Several bombers from Bethlehem blew themselves up in Jerusalem, just five kilometres away. Palestinians complain that the barrier juts into the West Bank, and here in Bethlehem, the 30-foot concrete wall is an imposing presence that bears down on the town.
But for a month, during the football tournament, Palestinians are putting it to good use.

Israeli separation barrier becomes huge outdoor World Cup TV screen for fans

Spain is one of the World Cup’s favorites and won the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship that was held in Austria and Switzerland. “After Sept. 11, many Saudis were treated poorly in many foreign countries. The situation was different in Spain. They respect Arabs and Islam very much. This was enough to make me support Spain in the World Cup,” said Saudi businessman Abdullah Abu-Shanga. “My passion to support Spain began during the 2002 World Cup that was held in South Korea and Japan. I think Spain will most likely win the World Cup this year,” he added.

Should politics influence views of Arab soccer fans?

Photo by gurms


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