Jubilant Fans Welcome Soccer Back to Baghdad
“This crowd comprises Sunni and Shiites and the players are from all over Iraq. Football, if nothing else, still unites Iraqis.”
Jaafar Abdul Hussein
Iraqi Football Fan
Around 3,000 came out to cheer on their favorite teams at Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad on Saturday.
Supporters of a local Iraqi police football team cheer during a match against the Al-Zawraa team at Baghdad’s Al-Shaab Stadium. Several thousand rowdy soccer fans turned up at Al-Shaab stadium in Baghdad Saturday as premier league football got into full swing in the capital more than 18 months after mortars brought it to a halt.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)
After 18 months soccer returned to Baghdad on Saturday.
Several thousand fans showed up to cheer on the local teams.
Several thousand rowdy soccer fans turned up at Al-Shaab stadium in Baghdad Saturday as premier league football got into full swing in the capital more than 18 months after mortars brought it to a halt.
Beating drums, waving flags, whistling and chanting, around 3,000 supporters ignored the presence of heavily armed troops and police to noisily cheer on Police College and Baghdad’s most popular team, Al-Zawra, as they battled it out on a threadbare pitch.
Adults and children, many of them dressed in the green shirts of the Iraqi national team, arrived at the stadium by bus, on foot, in taxis and by car for the second match of the season, which proceeded without incident.
The pitch may not be perfect, but football has made a triumphant return to Baghdad after 18 months (Aljazeera)
The Gulf Times has more on the match on Saturday:
Those enjoying this week’s match were confident that crowds would swell by the week as Baghdadis grew more confident that it is safe to venture back to the stadium in the capital’s central Zayuna district.
“Soon we will see large crowds again. Iraqis love football. Fans will return,” said Khalid Mahmud, 25, who runs a sports shop in central Baghdad. “We feel quite safe now, but we need the stadium to be renovated,” he added, pointing to the filthy plastic seats in the main stand, many of them broken.
The teams tied 1-1 but the score wasn’t the story to Saturday’s game in Baghdad.