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Old 08-19-2004, 03:19 PM   #1
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Iraqi Olympic football team speaks out against Bush

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...x.html?cnn=yes

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PATRAS, Greece -- Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir scored a goal here on Wednesday night, setting off a rousing celebration among the 1,500 Iraqi soccer supporters at Pampeloponnisiako Stadium. Though Iraq -- the surprise team of the Olympics -- would lose to Morocco 2-1, it hardly mattered as the Iraqis won Group D with a 2-1 record and now face Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Afterward, Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."

The Bush campaign was contacted about the Iraqi soccer player's statements, but has yet to respond.

To a man, members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power.

But they also find it offensive that Bush is using their team for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions in Iraq. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"

At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."

Sadir, Wednesday's goal-scorer, used to be the star player for the professional soccer team in Najaf. In the city in which 20,000 fans used to fill the stadium and chant Sadir's name, U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled loyalists to rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr for the past two weeks. Najaf lies in ruins.

"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."

Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.

"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq."

Everyone agrees that Iraq's soccer team is one of the Olympics' most remarkable stories. If the Iraqis beat Australia on Saturday -- which is entirely possible, given their performance so far -- they would reach the semifinals. Three of the four semifinalists will earn medals, a prospect that seemed unthinkable for Iraq before this tournament.

When the Games are over, though, Coach Hamad says, they will have to return home to a place where they fear walking the streets. "The war is not secure," says Hamad, 43. "Many people hate America now. The Americans have lost many people around the world--and that is what is happening in America also."
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Old 08-20-2004, 01:57 AM   #2
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Omar over at Iraq The Model had this to say.
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I read this story and I felt very upset and then I got many mails asking for my comment on it.

I really think that the Iraqi Football Federation should give the 2nd player (Ahmed Manajid) at least some advice on to how much he can express his own opinions in public, as he is representing Iraq right now.

However I have great doubts about the article. Looking at the address of the article and reading through it, it seems to me that the reporter was looking for a particular answer rather than just reporting. What would you expect as an answer for asking athlets about a politician, any politician using their achievements for advertising his campaign. Also we have no idea how this question was presented!

Another point is that when someone wants to draw a conclusion from several comments he tend to pick the ones that lead to his conclusion in a strong way, yet all the reporter could come up with were comments from 2 players and the coach out of 22 players and several trainers, medical staff...etc So if those were the 'best' comments he could get, I'm interested to know what were the comments of the others since the comment from the 1st player (Sadir) was actually not that bad!

I believe if he found a worse comment other than that he would've post it, don't you think so? Finally I'd like to put this report about 3 athletes together with this picture that you all had probably seen but some of you seem to have forgot about. Maybe we can get closer to the truth by taking two sides of the story?

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Old 08-20-2004, 12:26 PM   #3
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"My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"
Quote:
"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."
Quote:
Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.

"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq."
Quote:
"The war is not secure," says Hamad, 43. "Many people hate America now. The Americans have lost many people around the world--and that is what is happening in America also."
Nice picture, though.
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Old 08-21-2004, 10:34 AM   #4
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Doesn't freedom for Iraq mean these guys have freedom of speech? I think so. I don't like the use of the Olympics in any political campaign. If Kerry were doing it would also piss me off, but he's not. The Olympics aren't really supposed to be political.
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Old 08-21-2004, 12:47 PM   #5
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Perhaps he would like Saddam's sons in charge of the program....
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Old 08-21-2004, 01:23 PM   #6
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The Iraqis did mention that they were glad the Hussein brothers were no longer running their program, and I doubt if they miss him.
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Old 08-22-2004, 04:50 PM   #7
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It's a weak argument to state that they shouldn't forget about their newly found free speech, or that they could have Saddam in power instead. It makes the assumption that nobody was happy in Iraq before last year, and forgets about the millions of people now living in the middle of a war that they really could have done without. Even the Iraqis that should be glad of the US invasion are turning against the forces left in the country.

We went to war to make the world safer from Saddam's HUGE and READY-TO-GO STOCKPILE of BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS; without that threat there was no way the US would have got the support it did from the international community.

Forget all the other altruistic reasons that sounded good when they were thrown in with the WMD claim. They were all secondary arguments and wouldn't have stood on their own.
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Old 08-22-2004, 05:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Harper
It's a weak argument to state that they shouldn't forget about their newly found free speech, or that they could have Saddam in power instead. It makes the assumption that nobody was happy in Iraq before last year, and forgets about the millions of people now living in the middle of a war that they really could have done without. Even the Iraqis that should be glad of the US invasion are turning against the forces left in the country.

We went to war to make the world safer from Saddam's HUGE and READY-TO-GO STOCKPILE of BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS; without that threat there was no way the US would have got the support it did from the international community.

Forget all the other altruistic reasons that sounded good when they were thrown in with the WMD claim. They were all secondary arguments and wouldn't have stood on their own.
As of today, the reasons for the war, "insuring the verifiable disarmament of Saddam's WMD capability" was still the legal, moral and necessary thing to do.

People forget that Saddam: invaded and attacked unprovoked four different countries, used WMD more times than any leader in history, failed to account for thousands of stocks of WMD that he was required to verifiably disarm of per the UN 1991 Gulf WAR ceacefire agreement, threatened the planets energy supplies with siezure and sabotage, as well as murdering 1.7 million Iraqi's and foreigners through his actions.

In Saddam's Iraq, various Sunni tribes representing a tiny percentage of Iraq's total population were well cared for. The rest were subjected to some of the worst brutality in human history over a period of 25 years.

Recent opinion polls in Iraq have shown that the majority of Iraqi's feel their life is better now than before war and want to the coalition forces to remain in Iraq.

Are there Iraqi's that disagree with these things, of course. But there were Germans at the end of World War II that would have prefered Hitler over Allied occupation as well.
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Old 08-22-2004, 05:28 PM   #9
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Yeah, and now many of these Sunnis are angry that they no longer have this privileged position. Iraq could become a Shi'ite state, which would make it only the second Shi'ite nation in the world, after Iran, of course. I wonder if there have been any polls of whether or not Iraqis want a Shi'ite state or a secular state? It might strike some as ironic that Saddam wanted a secular state, but he wanted to be another Ataturk. He failed miserably at this attempt.
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Old 08-22-2004, 11:09 PM   #10
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Hey, freedom is untidy.
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Old 08-24-2004, 01:20 AM   #11
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004Aug23.html

Quote:
Soccer: We're No Symbol of Freedom, Iraq Coach Says

Reuters
Monday, August 23, 2004; 7:32 AM

By Ellie Tzortzi

THESSALONIKI, Greece (Reuters) - Iraq's Olympic soccer coach said Monday his side should not be seen as a symbol of freedom, taking issue with a campaign commercial for President Bush.

The flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear in a commercial as part of Bush's drive for re-election in November. A narrator says: "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."
But coach Adnan Hamad said Iraq, still plagued by violence daily, remained a country under occupation.

"You cannot speak about a team that represents freedom. We do not have freedom in Iraq, we have an occupying force. This is one of our most miserable times," he said.

"Freedom is just a word for the media. We are living in hard times, under occupation."

The Iraqi men's soccer side has been one of the surprises of the Olympics, reaching the semifinals of the competition. They play Paraguay Tuesday for a place in the final.

But their success has been overshadowed in the past few days by rows over the commercial for Bush, who went to war and ousted Iraq's Saddam Hussein last year.

Although Washington has officially handed power to an Iraqi interim government, more than 130,000 American soldiers remain in the country, battling with insurgents from various factions. Western officials also hold key positions behind the scenes.

"We want to give our people a cause to celebrate, to forget their problems," Hamad told reporters in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, the venue for Tuesday's match.

After Sports Illustrated magazine quoted Iraqi team members expressing outrage at the Bush ad, a British adviser to the Iraqi Olympic committee accused journalists of taking advantage of players' naivete and said sport should not be politicized.

But Hamad said: "One cannot separate politics and sport because of the situation in the country right now."

He said the violence which continues to afflict Iraq, more than a year after Bush declared major combat there was over, meant the team could not fully enjoy its success.

"To be honest with you, even our happiness at winning is not happiness because we are worried about the problems in Iraq, all the daily problems that our people face back home, so to tell you the truth, we are not really happy," he said.

The International Olympic Committee said it had not been in touch with the Bush campaign about its use of the Games in the commercial. National Olympic committees own the rights to the Olympic name and symbols in their countries, a spokeswoman said.
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Old 08-24-2004, 10:45 AM   #12
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I'm sure Adnan Hamad will miss the Uday treatment if his team loses....
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Old 08-24-2004, 12:09 PM   #13
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Every time someone criticizes something the US does down in iraq we can hear that Mr. Hussein was more evil than Mr. Bush. Is this all we can say now to defend the coalition of the willing and what they did down there?
They said allready that they were glad the Hussein brothers were no longer in charge and they also said they don't live in a free country (obviousely they don't), what's the problem with their statement??
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Old 08-24-2004, 01:41 PM   #14
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Fair enough.


I guess it is frustrating when all the efforts at creating a true democracy in Iraq are characterized as "living under occupation" (which is technically not true anymore).
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Old 08-24-2004, 02:00 PM   #15
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How many US troops are still in Iraq? How were the current leaders of Iraq chosen? How much is the US still involved?

I know it's frustrating, but is it really surprising that some Iraqis feel that they're living under occupation? As much as the administration would like to say, "It's all in the Iraqis' hands now," that's clearly not the case.
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