Saudi Arabian players will boycott FIFA’s man of the match award during the World Cup because it is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, an American company that manufactures Budweiser beer.
“It’s a matter of principle. No special meeting or decision needed to be taken. Saudi players will not accept an award linked to the maker of an alcoholic beverage,” said Abdullah al-Dabal, a Saudi soccer federation official.
He said as a Muslim nation, it was unacceptable for any of the Saudi players to accept such an award. Saudi officials told organizers of the decision before Wednesday’s 2-2 draw between Saudi Arabia and Tunisia in Munich, Germany. The man of the match award was given to Tunisia’s Ziad Jaziri.
Alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia and anyone found in possession of alcohol in the kingdom faces flogging.
The U.S. soccer team decided to spend two nights at Ramstein Air Base because of safety concerns with the designated FIFA hotels in the Kaiserslautern area.
The Americans traveled from their base hotel in Hamburg on Thursday, flying on a charter direct to Ramstein, where about 50,000 U.S. military, civilians and their families are based. The U.S. team is traveling with security from the State Department and is guarded by police. Player families will fly to Ramstein on Saturday and leave from the base after the game.
At a news conference before the team traveled Thursday, U.S. Coach Bruce Arena was asked whether there was enough security at the base. “I feel a lot safer with all those bombers down the road,” he said.
From the Associated Press
The World Cup may mean a big trophy and national glory in some parts of the globe, but in India, soccer is about eternal salvation.
That’s according to the Inner Voice, a column on spirituality and religion in the daily Hindustan Times, one of New Delhi’s most popular newspapers.
Cricket still reigns as the national sport; the Indian soccer team has never qualified for the World Cup.
Still, Satish K. Sharma, author of Monday’s Inner Voice column, observed: “What happens in the short span of an hour and a half, on a rectangular field of about 100 by 60 meters ... can make you see both heaven and hell.... Whoever invented this game must be both a genius and messiah.”
A soccer game, Sharma says, is an allegory for life. The field represents the universe and your teammates the people who help you along the way. To the probable horror of more secular fans, the referee is “your conscience,” the ball is your soul.
He’s not the first Indian to see soccer in spiritual terms. One of the most famous sayings of Swami Vivekananda, a 19th century religious teacher, extolled the virtues of manly fitness and strength.
“You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the” Bhagavad Gita.
-- Henry Chu