Chatting with the Iraqi Cristiano Ronaldo

Iraqi soccer player Ahmed Yasin!

Ahmed Yasin is Iraq’s hottest footballer, a man whose nickname was always going to be Cristiano.

Unfortunately that has as much to do with his fondness for hair gel as his skills. He plays for Örebro in Sweden’s second division, several thousand kilometres from the actual Ronaldo in every sense.

Ahmed’s currently in Qatar getting ready for a World Cup qualifier (Iraq play their ‘home’ matches there for security reasons), and is spending most of his time bored witless in a hotel, which probably explains why he quickly took my call when I tried to ask him about Iraq’s planned new national anthem.

I’m saving most of that chat for a forthcoming article, but I just wanted to put up a quote I found interesting because it illustrates the pointlessness of playing anthems before football matches – for many players at least.

“If you want to sing, you can,” Ahmed said. “If you don’t, you can be silent. A lot of people can concentrate and be ready for a match without singing. It’s like Ibrahimović in the Swedish team. He didn’t sing the anthem at the start [of his Swedish career], and so many people asked ‘Why? Why? Why?’ but why does he have to? It didn’t make him play any differently.”

All of which is true, but unfortunately newspapers will still criticise players whenever they fail to sing. Another victory for journalism!

(Apologies to anyone reading who was expecting Ahmed’s style tips. I’ll try to do those in a future post)

2 thoughts on “Chatting with the Iraqi Cristiano Ronaldo

  1. Why play anthems before sport events? I don’t mind players singing or not; but one can also think about the musicians who play it (when they’re live, at least)! I was in the brass quintet playing the American and Canadian anthems on the rink just before the Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins boxing match in Quebec City’s Colisée last year, and it was really thrilling! Who would’ve thought the most excited crowd I’d play for in my life would be there!?

    Plus, when the anthems are over, people know the match is just about to begin (and the tension often builds up a lot right after). I think it’s a pretty good way to mark that too!

    • Hey JP – that sounds fantastic. Just to clarify, I’ve got nothing against playing anthems before matches, I just think it’s bizarre when people expect sportsmen to sing along like a fan who’s had a few beers!
      We have a big problem in Europe with people booing anthems at soccer matches, but then sometimes the boos have been political protests, so you can’t really complain about that either…
      I just stumbled across this great quote in this article on the basketball team the Oklahoma Thunder saying that sometimes singing at sports games can lead to this amazing collective experience. “It’s that idea of everybody being focused on the same thing at the same time and being together in the bigger experience. It’s silliness, but all things are like that.” That probably sums it up well!

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