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January 03, 2007

When January Comes, or if FIFA Ran Iraq
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

I've been too down in the dumps about Iraq to post much (no policy options anyone believes will work, the degeneration of Saddam's execution into medieval spectacle, all-around carnage).  Fortunately, my email yielded up this satirical suggestion of the "new team" needed for Iraq -- a soccer team.  Even if you know nothing about soccer, don't give up reading before you get to the inspired pairing of David Beckham and Condoleezza Rice -- an image that speaks volumes (Beckham was dropped from the English national team and not had much playing time lately, for those of us who don't follow him).

Herewith, a satirical cry of despair, a faint hope that Iraq's burdens might become half this internationalized, and a small Democracy Arsenal tribute to the beautiful game.

When January Comes:  My Dream Team for Iraq, by Byron Andrews

Goalkeepers: Oliver Kahn and Donald Rumsfeld: Benched Cold War warriors working behind the scenes on a “magnanimous scowl to encourage and cheer our troops.” Will miss absent mentor Jurgen Klinsmann of whom Kahn says, “I have certain knowledge that Klinsmann is either in California or Germany or some other part of the world, which if I believe what I said yesterday could be Iraq.” 

Right Wing Backs: Gary Neville and Pat Robertson: Fearful of a “Scouse-Sunni Jihad” they warn that Manchester and America face far bigger dangers than a “few bearded scallies nicking stuff from Tescos and Wal-Mart.”

Left Wing Backs: Ashley Cole and Ahmed Chalabi: Tough tackling England defender and ex Iraqi Deputy PM leader have promised to continue the fight against “Tactics of Mass Destruction”. Chalabi is now acting as Cole’s agent, telling reporters “It would take an awful lot to get Ashley to leave Chelsea for Iraq, a province perhaps.”

Centre Backs: Marco Materazzi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Intriguing collaboration, the Iranian populist President has been acting as speech coach to the Azzuri defender. Have promised to “wind the shit out of any Militia leader looking for a legacy” in Iraq. Mazaretti: “I told Zizou that he cannot obscure the sun with a handful of dust…then I called his sister a whore.” Centre Backs: Franz Beckenbauer and Norman Schwarzkopf: Something of a surprise choice this. The Kaiser and Stormin’ Norman will use a hundred plus years of experience to shore up the leaky Coalition defense. 

In the Hole: Claude Makelele and Ayad Allawi: Based on three years of translating communications between diamond geezers John Terry and Frank Lampard, the French midfielder will advise Allawi on how to interpret Bush-Blair directions such as “Stay the Course” and “Turn the Corner.” Will also offer much used Chelsea favourite as slogan for 2007 ‘surge’ in Iraq, “Kick ‘Im in the Fackin’ Bollocks.”

Right Midfield: David Beckham and Condoleezza Rice: Fashion conscious pair are planning a “Matrixsexual” offensive in Baghdad, promising to “elongate and flatter” democratic Iraqis. Says the ex-England captain: “I don’t think we’ve reached a fashion plateau in Iraq. We have just reached the level where we are today.”

<Centre Midfield: Zinedine Zidane and John McCain: Battle-scarred midfield engine room will give no quarter in the new offensive. Currently working on new slogan: “Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and use your head.”

Left Midfield: Frank Lampard and George Casey: Midfield generals, utterly ineffective in 2006. Couldn’t hit an insurgent goalpost on a Guantanamo soccer pitch etc.

Forwards: Thierry Henry and Tony Blair: Slick pairing, unfortunately more effective on domestic than international stage. Both can “only go one way” possessing “no reverse gear” and both have promised “not to pass the ball in Iraq unless absolutely necessary.”   

Forwards: Wayne Rooney and Dick Cheney: Pugnacious, ball-breaking duo became firm allies on hunting trip to “rid the free world of Portuguese Quail.” Have promised to think of new curses to help coalition forces in sticky situations.

Substitutes: Alessandro Del Piero and Robert Gates: Gates just on for Rumsfeld, screaming at the bench for advice after four minutes…

MANAGERS: SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON AND GEORGE W. BUSH: Experienced duo has promised to look utterly blank when things do not go well. Will base new strategy in Iraq around two key words, Peter Crouch. Bush’s discovery of the beanpole striker was serendipitous, “I like to use googles to look at world maps, I’ve forgotten the name of the sport but when you pull up England you get Peter Crouch on satellite.” However Eriksson has expressed some reservations over his protégée, “He’s a long term name and a very big talent but I’m very sorry about the second half of Peter Crouch. That’s a disaster.” Bush however is likely to overrule these objections, “We need Peter Crouch to strategize our discussions in Iraq.” Sven has promised a series of intensive training sessions with Crouch, saying “I’ve told Peter that football and war are much harder if you don’t have the ball. You need goals when it’s 0-0 in Iraq and Peter understands this.”          


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Actually, Iraq's young soccer team just had a good run at the Asia Games, falling to Qatar in the finals.

When Iraq reached the finals, state TV played patriotic music for four hours. The nation, curiously, was united on one thing -- football.

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