It's the agony of victory for Iraqi soccer fans

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:18 AM ET

Most Canadians would agree there is nothing better than seeing your team compete live at a championship level, side-by-side with die-hard fans who are truly passionate about the game.

Now imagine doing so in a war zone after years of repression.

Sunday, the Iraqi national soccer team won its first ever Asian Cup by beating three-time champion Saudi Arabia 1-0, for a taste of joy not seen in Baghdad, never-mind Iraq, for what seems like an eternity.

What an amazing feat for a team in this war zone and what a day for fans who have had so little to cheer about for years and years.

Full points for focus and determination in beating the Saudis on the pitch -- but people, I must ask -- was the post-victory gunfire necessary?

Where does one's mind go to think, "My team won -- where's my gun? We need to celebrate!"

Was nothing learned on Wednesday when a semifinal win was overshadowed by terrorists who killed 50 by way of a suicide bombing?

I have never been there so here is an honest question: Is Iraq a nation desensitized to the gunfire or is it a culture where an automatic weapon is as common to a major celebration as, perhaps, bottles of champagne are here in Canada?

Sunday evening, police thwarted another attempt by terrorists to spoil the party. A man was attempting to drive a car bomb into a crowd of celebrating fans in the neighbourhood of Sadiya when authorities shot the would-be-bomber and detonated the car without innocents being injured.

I understand painted faces, hooting and hollering, flag waving, even the occasional blaze of fireworks -- as much as I personally do not enjoy uncontrolled fireworks. But semi-automatic weapons fired into the sky? Why?

One of the few bright moments enjoyed in Baghdad for years has turned dark with a headline that four fans had been killed by errant gunfire during post-victory celebrations.

Four dead. FOUR DEAD not from a roadside IED or a clash of insurgents but from the post-game celebrations of a soccer tournament win.

Talk about the agony of victory for at least four families.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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