In the DC conference, I got to meet a lot of interesting people. One of them is Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey who enjoys watching Lebanon and, ehm, cheering. He told me his theory about Lebanese politics.
“What you Lebanese need is more soccer”, he told me.
“I beg your pardon?”
He explained: The Lebanese treat their politics like other countries treat soccer. “All the props are there. You have team flags with various colors, you have buses that shuttle the fans, you have the bitterness and ecstasy that follow defeat and victory, and you always blame the referee”
I admit, I never looked at it this way. What if all we really needed was more soccer? What if all we need was a channel to vent our frustration and mistakingly think politics is it? After that we can just go back and talk. Have you realized how peaceful Lebanon becomes during the worldcup?
Ouwet Vs Hezbollah anyone?
Update: The international Herald Tribune picked up the topic of soccer in Lebanon. In “In Lebanon, even soccer is tainted by sectarian strife”, James Montague explains why soccer cheering is dangerous in these troubled times:
All the major Lebanese political figures finance teams in their communities. Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005, funded Al-Ansar, the current league champion, which has support from the Sunni majority. After Hariri’s death, his family continued the tradition and also helped bolster the budgets of Nejmeh, which is largely supported by Shiites, and Racing Beirut, which is owned and largely supported by Christians. Druze politicians and the Hariris help finance the club Safa. Meanwhile, Shabab Al-Sahel is also predominantly supported by Shiites, as is Al-Ahed, which has strong links to Hezbollah.
Read the entire thing