Being grateful to the US in Iraq still many years away

Years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, a soccer match in Baghdad signifies a sense of normality for a nation still reeling from chaos. The New York Times reports:

The score did not matter so much — well, it mattered some. More important was that Iraq’s itinerant national soccer team, displaced for years by war, finally returned to Baghdad on Monday night to play a home match at home.

In a dusty summer swelter, tens of thousands of Iraqis poured into Baghdad’s shabby Shaab Stadium and for the first time since 2002 filled it with a cacophony of clapping, clanging, chanting and cheering for the one thing that unifies Iraq more than any other.
“Iraq! Iraq!” they chanted hours before the match, the stadium filled past capacity and genuinely festive like nothing Baghdad had experienced in years”¦

In a sign that politics infects even soccer, the crowd on Monday night occasionally broke into chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

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