Even Screwing up Soccer

Even when they do something right, this administration has to screw it up. In the past I noted (in the context of Iraq) that since idle hands are the devil’s workshop, keeping young people occupied is necessary to keep them from listening to those who would incite them to violence. I even went so far as to suggest soccer as a way to do it… young people the world over seem drawn to soccer, it requires very little equipment (soccer king Pele’s first ball was a rolled up sock with other socks inside it), and informal soccer games can be played anywhere there is an open space, no matter how small. (Growing up in South America, I can’t tell you how many times I played “soccer” in a hallway or someone’s courtyard with other kids.)

So this morning I read this

A demonstration has been held in south- east Afghanistan accusing US troops of insulting Islam after they distributed footballs bearing the name of Allah.

The balls showed the Saudi Arabian flag which features the Koranic declaration of faith.

The US military said the idea had been to give something for Afghan children to enjoy and they did not realise it would cause offence.

Some displayed flags from countries all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, which features the shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam – the declaration of faith.

The words, which include the name of Allah, are revered, and Muslims are very sensitive about where and how they can be used.

Saudi Arabia has complained to the World Cup’s ruling body in the past about the use of its flag on footballs.

Even assuming most Americans don’t know much about soccer, someone should have remembered this very issue caused a flap a few years ago for McDonalds when they printed the Saudi flag (among others) on paper tray liners.

Fortunately the demonstration was small, and with luck there won’t be much fallout.