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In the Newsroom

October 8, 2009
A view from the East: Soccer in Egypt

Mohammad Al-Kassim is an associate producer at Worldfocus. He blogs here about the popularity of soccer in Egypt.

Football, or soccer as it’s called in the U.S., is considered to be one of the most popular sports in the world. Millions of people make time during the month-long World Cup — which takes place every four years — to watch the matches.

I grew up playing football as a kid in Kuwait and Jerusalem. We kids played on any vacant lot we could find, in our neighborhood or our school’s dusty field. I have many scars and a few broken bones from playing the game. Football is a game without any class separation. For me and my friends, football was and still is the cheapest game out there.

My best childhood memories are those spent with my father — who was an avid football fan himself — watching the game. It was the only time he would set aside his worries and be transformed into a kid again.

Most nations around the world (with the possible exception of the U.S.) take the game very seriously.

In 1969, following the second North American qualifying round for the 1970 FIFA World Cup, Honduras and El Salvador engaged in a brief war following their intense soccer match. It wasn’t the only reason — but the tensions surrounding the game didn’t help. 

Egyptians are no exception; it is no secret to how much Egyptians love their local football teams, especially the Ahli, and Zamalek. But their passion and devotion to their national team borders on insanity.

The Egyptian national football team’s win in the African Cup last year sent thousands of flag waving Egyptians into the streets hugging and kissing each other.

Football brings a lot of emotions out in people — emotions that they themselves may not have known they had. It’s about national pride and identity. It’s when small countries show off their muscles, playing the “bully” big countries.

Currently, Egypt is hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup, where its team is playing in the tournament. The regular World Cup, which will be held in South Africa,  is still a year away — so passionate football fans, especially the Egyptians, are getting their football fix by watching the under-20 tournament.

This story from Al Arabiya TV caught my eye.  It’s about a wedding that almost didn’t happen because it was scheduled for the same night Egypt was playing in that under-20 tournament.  The bride and groom found a novel solution.

I’ve translated it from Arabic.

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Comments

2 comments

#2

It was nice to watch the video and listen to your translation of events. Good job!

#1

I LOVE the idea of WF doing some international sports coverage. The World Cup is probably the most watched televised event in the entire world. I would personally like to see a lead up to the World Cup (or other sports event). Maybe you could have a different angle every week and show the games and leisure activities of people all over the world? Or intermingle that with interviews of pro and amateur athletes from different parts of the world? I’d like to hear some of their personal stories. Americans are in love stories of underdogs who rise above their struggles. Let the games begin! Much Love, Charlie

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