Friday, February 1, 2008

I Don't Have a Joke for This Post

So here's the deal - Manchester City wanted to bring in Nashat Akram, the star of Iraq's 2007 Asian Cup winning team, but Akram didn't qualify for a UK work permit, since Iraq isn't ranked in the top 70 in the FIFA rankings (Iraq just misses the cut, its average ranking for the last 2 years around #71). Which was fine, because there's an appeal process so you can get past technicalities like that, so deserving players do get their chance to play. Well, except the Home Office ruled against him.

Now, I don't want to get on a soapbox here, but WTF? It's hard for your country to move up in the rankings when your country's war-torn and can't play home matches. And when they did get a chance to play against quality opponents, they won their continental tournament. And remember them in the Sydney Olympics. They're clearly better than the rankings suggest.

So if we're going to ignore the footballing merits of letting Akram (and really, who is anyone to argue with Sven's ability to evaluate talent?), what about everything else? Here's a soccer player from Iraq, where the Coalition of the Willing (!) isn't all that popular, and he wants to make his living in England. It wouldn't kill to have good news involving Iraq and Britain, no? Or consider Britain's Muslim youths who are alienated from the mainstream and vulnerable to being radicalized - not that one player is going to change all that, but it would certainly help to have someone they could follow.

Now the Iraqi ambassador and a PM are getting involved, which seems more trouble than it's worth, but then, it shouldn't have come to this in the first place.

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