A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Sinister Soccer Plot Against Syria

 Syrian television is not noted for its satirical wit, so one possible explanation of this story is ruled out. It is definitely not from The Onion. This leads to the possibility that Syria's official media is descending into some sort of tinfoil-hat paranoid lunacy that defies parody. (More so than usual, I mean.)

Syrian state-run al-Dunya television has charged that in a recent soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, Barcelona — well, let James Dorsey's The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog tell it: 
Al Dunya charged that Barcelona’s tactical formations represented a map of routes from Lebanon to Syria used to smuggle weapons to the Syrian rebels. It said projecting the map on a Barcelona Copa del Rey quarter final match against Real Madrid that players in the club’s formation on the soccer pitch were the equivalent of smugglers while the ball represented weapons as they were moved along the smuggling route.

Al Dunya asserted that midfielder Andres Iniesta operated at the beginning of a smuggling route while a late game pass by player of the year Lionel Messi constituted the successful handover of an arms shipment in Deir al-Zor at the end of the route. In Al Dunya’s apparently doctored version of the match a mysterious, unidentified player appears as Messi passes the ball. The shadowy player somehow ends up in the Real Madrid goal. Midfielder Sergio Busquets Burgos was also part of Barcelona’s international intrigue, Al Dunya said. ...

Al Dunya charged that the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera television network was repeatedly broadcasting clips from the Barcelona match in a bid to weaken the Assad regime.
Lest you think Dorsey is making this up, here's an Al-Arabiya report on it. And one from Yahoo sports. nd the broadcast itself has been posted by someone to YouTube and as of last night had been viewed by 663,000 people. I suppose the video could be a clever hoax, but no one seems to have denied that Al-Dunya broadcast this. In the video you'll see that they prove (?) the plot by projecting a map of Syria (in Arabic) over the football maneuver. Yes, as shown the action moves from Lebanon to Homs to Deir al-Zor, two cities where the rebels have been heavily engaged, but the map seems to move with the players, so, call me a skeptic, I don't actually buy the plot. And it's not like the map is high enough scale to actually convey routes.

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