Dear Riyadi, The Turkish Flag Raised To Tease Homentmen Wasn’t Photoshopped, And Yes It’s Despicable

It says a lot when the knee-jerk reaction to something as disgusting as this is to cry foul and call photoshop instead of calling out those who did that.

It says even more that the men who were holding the Turkish flags weren’t even holding them right: they were just there to tease the Armenian team the team they’re supporting was playing.

I posted the above pictures on my blog’s Facebook page and was immediately inundated by replies that it was photoshopped. No, it wasn’t. Not only was it shared by one of Al Riyadi’s top Facebook fan pages, but a little zooming in and you can see the person holding the flag. Some even tried to defend it. Anything to save face? No, just no.

Perhaps it’s a good thing to have a “it’s photoshopped” reflex in order not to raise tensions, but when faced with evidence that it’s not, the right route is to own up to it and apologize to the team you were playing whose entire history you insulted, to those who support that team whose ancestral struggles you’ve insulted and to your fellow citizens whose fight is a daily, yearly thing to have their genocide recognized. And all for what? Teasing?

There’s a whole other level of disgraceful when you have to sink to such low levels and then try to justify it. Turkey is a good friend to Lebanon? Yes, but that’s not the place to celebrate that. People wanted to commemorate the memory of our victims at Istanbul’s Reina attacks? Really now, against an Armenian team, during a basketball game that followed a period during which organizers for both teams wanted to deviate tensions?

The fact of the matter is that Turkish flag was intentional, and that picture was authentic and the act was despicable. It was even preceded by fans making that “joke” on social media over and over again:

But it’s not a joke. It’s not funny. What it is is disgusting, disgraceful, hurtful and despicable.

To set an example, Al-Riyadi should identify whoever those fans were and ban them from attending future games of the team in order to set an example. It’s easy to dismiss such acts as goofy play, but we’ve experienced them way too often and fans of multiple teams have been banned from courts so repeatedly for things to remain as is. Sometimes, such as this time, you have to call out things as they are so people know that doing them isn’t worth the laughs they got with the bros or that surge of pride they felt when they pulled that flag out of their pocket mid-game.

This is about the mentality that would push a supporter of a particular team, in this case Al Riyadi Beirut, to figure it’s a good idea to insult Armenians in the worst way possible by bringing a Turkish flag to a game and not even hold it properly, or the mentality of a Sagesse supporter chanting Islamophobic slogans just because they can. The examples are endless, and they’ve been thoroughly documented.

I’m 100% certain that this is not what all Al-Riyadi supporters are like as many of my friends are supporters of that particular team and they would never be in such poor taste as to pull a similar stunt. I’m also positive that such stunts do not paint the picture of the entirety of Lebanon’s basketball fans. However, with sectarian and political slogans becoming as part of the game as the ball, isn’t it high time for the entirety of the game to be re-assessed?

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Disgusting Lebanese Basketball

I used to follow Lebanese basketball as much as I can. I supported Sagesse. Not because of the party they are apparently affiliated with but because I grew up in a house that supported them because it had alumnus from that school and – for a while – they were the best.

However, I believe I’m not the only one who finds Lebanese sports in general and basketball in particular, seeing as it’s the most popular Lebanese sport, to be downright disgusting lately. Even our football league is miserable – not that it was in better shape before. Check this link out.

Every single game to be held lately has to be postponed for some amount of time in order to get the fans to cool off… politically, even the games of teams many thought were irrelevant or had no political backing. Even the Lebanese president now has his own basketball applaud squad in the form of the Amchit team. And here I was thinking I was way behind the times in not knowing Champville was FPM-centric.

I’ve been so disassociated from what was happening actually that I had no idea until recently about all the major scandals that were taking place, most of which were politically coated sport affairs. Most of them revolved around my former go-to team Sagesse and a growing rivalry with Champville with some businessmen thrown in the fold. The “scandal” was all about the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement. Then try to tell a supporter of either parties who’s absolutely elated by what went down that this isn’t how things should go: “Man, l ouwet reb7et...” or “Shou baddna, 3al tayyar ma bi3alle2.”

Every single team playing today has a go-to political affiliation. They are not playing the game, they’re playing for their politician. If they win, they bring his reputation pride. If they lose, it’s his reputation that’s on the line. But fear not, the “supporters” will wreck havoc and make sure no one takes their political affiliation lightly.

But Lebanon’s basketball league is but an absolutely minute representation of the even more disgusting state of Lebanese politics today: the election law “talks” leading to nowhere, the visits between smiling foes when you know they are bottling in every single curse word known to man, the ultra tense mood regarding everything there is. We’re not getting anywhere. Deadlines are looming. And here we are applauding.

The tension on the courts is the tension on the streets. The words going across fields are the words we hear on TV. The slogans shouted are a regurgitation of the ones our politicians franchise.

Talk about sportsmanship. At least someone mathematically wins in basketball. Lebanese politics, on the other hand, is all in the eye of the beholder supporter.

Euro 2012 Final: Italy vs Spain aka Super Fun Italy vs Super Boring Spain

Remember way back when I told you how I, as an Italy fan, was getting ready for my team’s opening game against Spain in the group stages?

I had my jersey ready.

I had the flag at my disposal.

And for good measure, I had all forms of deities I can get to at hand:

Now that my team has reached the final after an awesome win against Germany (which I was deep-down expecting but went about lowering my expectations and doing some necessary pre-game damage control, just in case. Those Lebanese football fans can sure be a pain when you lose), how will I get ready for the big finale?

Yes, that is pasta! And this is how a friend and I celebrated 😀

Well, if anything, this Euro tournament has shown that you cannot dismiss the Italians easily, which many (including some of their supporters *raises hand* have done).

1 – Some hadn’t expected Italy to get past the group stage. They did.

2 – Some didn’t expect Italy to then beat a very mediocre England in the quarter finals. They dominated England and were unlucky not to have won in the game’s original time. Many had even predicted a 3-0 score for England. Those same people are predicting a 3-1 Spain win today.

3 – Once Italy reached the semi-finals against Germany, the only thing you could hear is resounding confidence how this will be the end of the road for the Italians. But it was far from it. The Italians should have won with more than two goals.

So what’s my mentality going in to the final?

Well, I cannot but have a faint tinge of panic (or a lot of panic). But I am proud of what they have done in this tournament. Italy have proven that they are so much fun to watch. They are attacking, creating chances. Not just scoring on a counter-attack and parking their legendary bus, stopping any team from even thinking about scoring.

On the other hand, Spain have been boring this Euro tournament. Their game against Portugal was such a pain to watch that I ended up catching up on my reading and blogging about a festival named Wickerpark before they reached the penalty shoot-out during which I still had no idea which team I wanted to advance. Out of the six goals they scored, four were against the same team (Ireland). Their showing against all the other teams they played (Croatia, Portugal, Italy) was far from impressive.

Am I confident Italy will win today? Hardly. But regardless of what the result of tonight’s game turns out to be, I – as a supporter of the Azzurri – am extremely happy with what they’ve accomplished and hope the cherry on top will be them winning.

Rising from the tournament’s underdogs to stars, this Italy side has proven that one doesn’t simply take them lightly. The game tonight will be great to watch, as was the group stage game between both teams.

I think Pirlo will be as great as he was in all of this tournament’s games. I think Balotelli will shine again. I think Buffon will prove, yet again, why he is the world’s best goalkeeper – bar none.

But regardless of what happens: FORZA EFFIN ITALIA! I can’t wait to see what Prandelli does with Italy in the next World Cup.

 

Watch the Italy vs Germany Euro 2012 Semi-Final Football Game Online

As the Euro 2012 tournament draws close to an end, the second and last semi-final game is here between football rivals Germany and Italy.

Germany haven’t beaten Italy since 1995 and they’ve never beaten them in competitive games. Ever. On the other hand, the Italians should be extremely tired after their 120 minute game against England in the quarter finals. The game is up in the air. As an Italy fan, it saddens me to predict a Germany win.

But a streak has got to end sometime, no?

Either way, here’s a link to watch the game online (here).

And FORZA ITALIA! Always.

The Last Part of UEFA Euro 2012 Round 1 Explained

I was reading the past couple of days sports articles about how a Croatia-Spain 2-2 tie would see Italy out, even if they beat Ireland by 10 goals.

So I asked people about that because it didn’t make sense to me and I was linked to the tie-breaker regulations, which are as follows:

If Spain ties Croatia, they would both have the same number of points as Italy in the case of Italy beating Ireland. In that case, they’ll go down through the above criteria in order. The first two, a & b, do not break the tie. Point c, however, which precedes goal difference, does. Italy tied Croatia 1-1. In the event of Spain tying Croatia 2-2, the number of goals scored by Spain and Croatia in their own game is higher and therefore, they would both advance. Unfair? Well, it’s the way things are.

Either way, sports blog figo29 has taken his time to write out a detailed scenario for all the different possibilities for the next few days playing out. So if you want to know, for example, how Holland can actually still advance despite having lost twice, I invite you to read this very simple analysis here.

Until then, I’ll go back to praying for the sake of Italy advancing. They leave their supporters to the very last round every single time.

Now This Is Football! Italy vs Spain at the UEFA Euro 2012

I’m definitely biased towards Italy when it comes to football but I can appreciate a good game when I watch one, regardless of who’s playing and regardless of my sentiments towards the teams.

For instance, even though I’m indifferent towards both Germany and Portugal and even though I wanted Germany to win yesterday, which they did, I was still bored by the game which everyone would agree was fairly lackluster.

Well, here comes the Italy vs Spain game which ended a few minutes ago to bring some good football to a pretty mundane Euro tournament so far.

Sure, the score is 1-1. No team won. But both teams were great, had many opportunities to score and gave fans a great display of football.

The first half was all Italy. They entered the game as the underdogs. I even thought a good outcome out of this had low outcomes, which is evident by the many Holy forms I had summoned. But suprisingly, Italy were attacking and building opportunities and threatening the Spaniards in ways I’m pretty sure the most optimistic supporters of the Azzurri didn’t think was possible.

They reminded me of the 2006 Italy that was mesmerizing, at least to me, to watch.

The second half held a clear Spanish advantage with Italy returning to their defensive self but it saw both teams scoring within minutes of each other: Di Natale, followed by Fabregas. The second half saw Buffon prove to the world why he is the best goalkeeper in the world today. It saw the Spanish offense & midfield shine and the Italian defense stand firmly in their path. It showcased both teams playing to their strengths.

All in all, the Italy vs Spain game can be summed up this way: Great football. Great teams. There’s no way in hell Italy is a pushover. Buffon is a god. That is all.

PS: I just noticed I actually wrote a sports-related blog post here. Awesome. Oh, and just a piece of trivia. Spain haven’t beaten Italy in a tournament game since 1920.