Apparently what they needed was America and coalition partners to rescue them from that Hell. Liberals are, as we know, against that, preferring instead that Saddam Hussein was still in charge there.
As I recall it, when the boys came home without a win in Saddam Hussein and his son Uday’s day, they had the bottoms of their feet tortured by canes and were publicly shamed and humiliated to the point of suicide.
Now that that’s long over, the Iraq team wins over Saudi Arabia, and what could be sweeter than that? Besides winning over Iran?
Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:30PM BST
By Julian Linden
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Iraq completed one of sport’s great fairytales by beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Asian Cup final on Sunday to provide a rare moment for celebration in their war-torn homeland.
The Saudis had been bidding to become the first four-times winners of the tournament but Iraq, riding a wave of global sentiment, upset the hot-favourites for a rare slice of sporting glory.
Iraqi captain Younis Mahmoud scored the winner in the 71st minute when he climbed above the defence at the far post and headed a perfectly-weighted corner from Hawar Mulla Mohammed into the Saudi net.
When the final whistle sounded, the Iraq players collapsed to the ground in a mixture of shock and an unbridled emotion, kissing the turf and embracing each other after their country’s finest sporting moment.
Saudi Arabia were outplayed by an Iraqi team riding high on a wave of national support….
Here’s a report first published in the New York Times in 2003 and reprinted at The Iraq Foundation web site about Saddam and his sons’ penchant for torturing soccer players:
…After drawing or losing games, players were punished. A missed penalty or other poor play entailed a ritual head shaving at the Stadium of the People, or being spat on by Uday’s bodyguards.
A series of poor passes, carefully counted, could result in a player’s being forced to stand before the president’s son in the dressing room, hands at his side, while he was punched or slapped in the face an equal number of times.
But those were the lesser miseries. Some players endured long periods in a military prison, beaten on their backs with electric cables until blood flowed. Other punishments included “matches” kicking concrete balls around the prison yard in 130-degree heat, and 12-hour sessions of push-ups, sprints and other fitness drills, wearing heavy military fatigues and boots.
The story of the 38-year-old Uday, whose whereabouts are unknown, is only part of the horrors that tumble every day now out of American-ruled Iraq. It is a story that exceeds the worst that human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch chronicled in the years before American troops toppled Mr. Hussein’s government last month.
Another 2003 report by the BBC carefully alludes to the fact that now that the Americans are in charge, a sense of normalcy is returning to the game of soccer:
…Until recently, the Iraqi football team was run by Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, who is said to have tortured players who he judged played badly.
Uday kept an iron grip on Iraqi football for nearly 20 years
Many footballers – some of whom were forced to flee the country – spoke of beatings and public humiliation by Uday and his henchmen just because players lost a match.
They said Uday’s favourite punishment was caning the feet and locking up the players for days. Some said Uday forced them to play after shaving their heads.
“That regime was similar to the Nazis, to the Communists, which they use sport for politics,” Ahmed al-Samarrai, acting head of sport in Iraq, said.
For the Americans, Tuesday’s game was an attempt to show that normality was gradually returning to Iraq. …
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