Sunday, March 13, 2005

A nice - and relevant - piece on football and Saadi el-Qaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, in the New York Times:

"Always, my father looks at things in a political way," Mr. Qaddafi lamented, adding that his father did not understand fans. "They aren't political, and I've told him I don't want any of that stuff. Every day I'm with him, I explain to him the mentality of the fans, how it helps young people, how it's like breath for youth."

In 1996, he became president of Libya's soccer association with the intent of building up a semiprofessional league. He paid for premium players to go to Libya and hired one of the world's best coaches, Carlos Bilardo, who led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, for Libya's national team. He continued cajoling his father to ease the rules that ban professional sports in the country.

His success has been one of the least heralded changes in Libyan society, but one that made a huge difference in many people's lives. Soccer matches between the 14 teams of Libya's national soccer league are now wildly popular, providing the most regular entertainment available for idle young men who might otherwise look in less salubrious places for excitement.

And - irrelevant but still nice - this:

He has an idea for a movie about Hannibal, the legendary military commander of ancient Carthage, that would be filmed in Libya. But when Mr. Qaddafi approached Harvey Weinstein, the Miramax boss, at a film festival in Venice late last year, Mr. Weinstein cut him off, telling him curtly that if he wanted to do movies with Miramax, Libya would have to recognize Israel first. "The first touch was a very hot touch," said Mr. Qaddafi, laughing quietly about his brief brush with Hollywood. "I didn't have time to breathe."


On a different note, Grozny's Terek has just lost to Moscow's CSKA, 0:3...

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