Monday, July 13, 2009

Iraq beats Palestine 4-0 in Baghdad

Soccer will help Iraq heal itself.
'In the capital, Shaab stadium was filled to capacity with 45,000 fans who were allowed free entry. Some supporters sat on the edge of the field, and police were barely able to contain the crowds that poured into the stadium.

Fans waved Iraqi and Palestinian flags and chanted "Glory to Baghdad", "The Shiites and the Sunnis are brothers" and "Our hearts are with Gaza."

Balloons and white doves were released before the start of the match.

Hawar Mulah Mohammed scored the first goal in the 27th minute, while Karar Jassim and Alaa Abdul-Zahraa consolidated the lead. Emad Mohammed scored the fourth goal with a penalty kick.

"I insisted on coming here despite my disability and the heat," said Karim Ahmed, who came to the stadium from Baghdad's Sadr City district in a wheelchair four hours before the start of the match. "All the fans are eager to see the national team in Baghdad. It is a clear sign that Iraqis are not deterred by terrorist attacks."

Najih Hamoud, a senior Iraqi soccer federation official, said the match showed that Baghdad is safe.

"We hope that this match will make the FIFA officials think of lifting the ban on holding matches in Baghdad," he said.

Although violence is sharply down, insurgents still carry out attacks regularly. Four people died in bombings of churches in the capital on Sunday.'

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