Iraq's Asian Games win celebrated with gunfire

December 3, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's 2-0 win over Oman in the Asian Games' soccer tournament in Qatar Sunday was greeted by deafening volleys of celebratory gunfire in Baghdad, a city engulfed in violence that has not spared athletes and sports officials.

Iraqis, who traditionally keep firearms at their homes, are passionate about soccer and wins by the national team over the past three years have provided them with much deserved respites from the daily fare of death and destruction, bringing the ethnically and religiously diverse nation together.

"I do hope that sport will unify Iraqis in politics as well," said, Karim Jassim, a 35-year-old clothes salesman from Al-Rasheed street in Baghdad's old quarter.

The win came on the same day that the body of Hadib Majhoul, the Sunni Arab chairman of one of Iraq's leading soccer clubs, was found in Baghdad, three days after he was kidnapped by gunmen in Baghdad.

Ali Rehema and Khashen Alaa scored goals to keep Iraq's slim quarterfinals hopes alive. The result left both teams with three points in Group E, three behind leader China.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press