World Cup Runneth Over: Soccer, War, Peace, and Baghdad Burning

Michael Giberson

Via Virginia Postrel, I see Daniel Drezner is upset with the Bono-voiced World Cup ads running on ESPN. Drezner apparently believes, contrary to implications of the ad, that soccer can’t in fact stop war. I appreciate his sentiment, especially the point urged in his title: Will Bono Please Be Quiet, Please? (As a credentialed thinker, I too am outraged when entertainers blather endlessly about this or that feckless idea to save the world. After all, that’s what blogging is for.) Still, with his collection of anecdotes about soccer and war – and by soccer, of course, I mean football – Drezner’s post is entertaining enough for people interested in such things.

A far better read on war, peace, soccer and civil society comes from Baghdad Burning:

It’s fascinating to watch the world beyond Iraq prepare for the World Cup. I get pictures by email of people hanging flags and banners, in support of this team or that one. Oh we have flags and banners too- the hole-ridden black banners all over Baghdad, announcing deaths and wakes. The flags are all of one color, usually- black, green, red, or yellow- representing a certain religious party or political group.

A friend who owns a shop in Karrada had a little problem with a certain flag last week…

The posting continues with the story of a soccer fan who owns a shop in Baghdad, who posted a Brazil flag honoring that nation’s output of great players, and who thereby attracted the attention of a black-turbaned young cleric.

The flag “was up for nearly two whole days before the problems began.�? Read the story.

UPDATE: Drezner’s blog post has grown up to be an essay in the Sunday Washington Post: “The Soccer Wars.