For the love of football
Passionate football lovers in Iraq can sometimes go too far. Two football players have died this week alone.
March 19, 2009 8:22 by Dana El Baltaji
An enthusiastic Iraqi football fan shot dead a football player as he attempted to score an equalizing goal against the fan’s team, reports Reuters. The match was against two local teams in a town called Hilla, 100 kilometers south of Baghdad.
“As soon as Haider Kadhim (the player) was alone in front of the goalkeeper and close to equalizing, a fan in the crowd fired a pistol at him,” a senior police officer in Hilla, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
“We arrested this fan immediately but unfortunately the player died.”
This is the second killing this week. On Saturday, The New York Times reported that a winning goalie was accidentally shot dead by a security guard while fans celebrated Sinjar’s win over Enana – two local, Iraqi teams – at a match played near Hilla. An off-duty officer was firing his pistol in the air during the celebrations, but lost control of the gun. He shot Sinjar’s goalie in the head, killing the 18-year-old high school senior, Mohammed Amin, instantly.
Celebrations in Iraq often include firing bullets in the air. Accidental shootings are common during these celebrations.
Football is the number one sport in the war-torn nation. For many Iraqis, football is an escape from the violence typical of everyday life throughout the country.
“During the two hours of game time, I live in another world,” Nawfal Hameed, an electric appliance shop owner said to The New York Times. “I forget about the car bombs and feel human again, and what is more beautiful is that the team includes all sects – they are all Iraqis to us and they make me feel that we are united again.”