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Cablegate: Iraq-Kuwait Soccer Face Off -- 15 Years Later

VZCZCXRO4573
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHKU #4997 3390433
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050433Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2003
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KUWAIT 004997

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

R, NEA/PPD (AFERNANDEZ, CWHITTLESEY), ECA (NBISHOP,
KWAINSCOTT), NEA/ARP (DBERNS)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC KPAO SCUL ZP IZ KU
SUBJECT: Iraq-Kuwait Soccer Face Off -- 15 Years Later

1. Kuwait and Iraq faced off on the soccer field for the
first time since before the first Gulf War. The match held
on November 26, 2005 between the Iraqi and Kuwaiti national
teams was part of the elimination round for the Asia Cup
finals. The result of the game, played in Kuwait, was a
huge disappointment to Kuwaiti fans and commentators. All
five major Kuwaiti Arabic language newspapers lamented the
poor performances of both teams which ultimately resulted in
the 0-0 draw. Headlines read: "The game was not up to the
hoped or expected levels; 0-0 draw for blue ("blue" refers
to the Kuwaiti team's blue uniforms) with Iraq on playing
and scoring"; "The elders tie and the hope is in the youth";
"Blue vs. Iraq. two zeros"; "A faded Iraqi experience for
the blue."

2. While this match was dubbed historic as the first game
between the Gulf neighbors in 15 years, the last time the
teams met on February 28, 1990, that game also ended in a
tie. The score was 1-1, as part of the tenth Gulf Cup. The
two teams have not competed since the invasion of Kuwait by
Iraq in 1991. Sports commentators said that despite
Kuwait's possession of the ball for most of the game, they
presented no real danger to the goal of their Iraqi
counterparts. Kuwaiti sports reporters complained that
contestants did not take the game seriously, nor did they
exert their best efforts. Adding insult to injury, the
Kuwaiti junior team was beaten by the Iraqi junior team 1-0
on November 28, 2005.

3. One editorial cartoon lampooned the loss for the juniors,
showing a father with a newborn son dismissing modern "weak"
names such as Hani in favor of old-fashioned "strong" names
such as Jabar (mighty), Raad (thunder), or Barq (lighting)
with the implied hope that such names will ensure future
Kuwaiti victories on the soccer field.

LEBARON

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