There’s an excellent article by James Montague over on the Guardian website today. It begins:
“Last night, when Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite – better known as Kaka – strode up to the podium in Zurich to collect Fifa’s world player of the year award, there were few dissenting voices. After all, Kaka had lead Milan to the European Cup and Club World Cup. But how would Kaka have performed with the constant threat of assassination and kidnap, with the spectre of sectarian violence against his family hanging over him, with his country in flames and with the pressure of knowing that his position as captain of the national team constituted the only glue that held his homeland together? For overcoming these barriers, and thriving on an international platform, there was an even better candidate for world footballer of the year: Younis Mahmoud, the captain of the Iraqi national team”.
A really fascinating article follows; Mahmoud is, for the moment, playing in Qatar – immigration rules have so far prevented him playing in Europe. I hope he does, and continues to be an important figure in Iraqi football, when he does. He has much to recommend him.
“It doesn’t matter what I am,” he says when I ask which of Iraq’s triumvirate clans he comes from. Depending on who you read, he is either Shia, Sunni, or Kurdish. “Above all else, I am Iraqi.”