Monday, January 28, 2008

Iraq Soccer Star Can’t Play in England. Iraq Blames America

Here is a bit of news to conflates two things and one that can make America better in the eyes of Iraq. It seems that Iraqi soccer stat Nashat Akram was denied a British work permit by the British Interior Ministry to play soccer in England with Premier League side Manchester City.
The reason? Iraq’s standing in the soccer world isn’t high enough, despite the fact that they won the Asian Cup soccer championship this summer.

Akram’s would-be employer, Manchester City Football Club, said the government’s rejection of the appeal was based on a technicality. The Iraqi national team has not recently played against any of the world’s top 20 teams and its two-year average rank is 71. To meet the requirements of the visa, the team needs to be ranked in the top 70.
The Interior Ministry has rules set up so that English Soccer clubs cannot simply bring in all the high-priced internationl talent they want. Aside from the rankings of the players national team, the player also has to have played in 75 percent of his national team's internation matches and a few other requirements.

The Iraqi national team has not been able to play at home (and thus improve their ranking) due to their "domestic troubles," which includes soccer players getting killed among other things. Iraq did very well in the last World Cup (better than the U.S. I might add), and was the winner of the Asian Cup. The technical ranking issue can be overruled by an Appeals Board.

This would be a good chance for the U.S. to help by appealing to the Interior Ministry to let Akram play. To my knowledge, Akram would be the only Iraqi playing in the Premier League and the addition to him to a Premier League club would be a further demonstration of how far the nation of Iraq has come. Plus, it would make the Brits look good, the Americans look good and we would get to see Akram play in one of the best leagues in the world--and he has mad skills to boot, so it wouldn't be a charity case.

No comments: