Saturday, January 22, 2011
Asian Cup 2011
The last few weeks has seen the Asian Cup 2011 here in Doha which allowed me the opportunity to take in a few games to see some first-rate teams. I'm actually going to one this afternoon. Once I took a look at the schedule there was one game I definitely wanted to see -- Iran versus North Korea. An ‘Axis of Evil’ matchup! I told a couple Americans they should show up and bring an American flag, or maybe pictures of George Bush, that would be amusing. No, there was no way I was going to do it myself, I'm a friendly Canadian. I also wanted to see if, like the recent World Cup in South Africa, North Korea was going to fly in a couple hundred of obedient citizens to be flag-waving fans. A Qatari friend of mine went with me as he wanted to see them too. Sure enough when I got to the stadium outside were a couple of hundred North Korean men (no women) all in line who were then marched in to the stadium in groups. They had North Korean flags and some of them had pins with a picture of ‘Dear Leader’. They also had a leader who would direct them on cheers. A British guy was trying to get them to trade a flag or a pin but I don't think they understood English and even if they did I doubt they would've done it. It turned out that my seats were only about five rows away so I was pretty close to them and could record a video (the cheerleader is in the middle of the video): North Korea lost 1-0 and eventually did not make it to the elimination round of the tournament. So I guess they flew all of the citizens back home. I wonder what they thought of Doha, given that it is clean, modern, and has electricity that works 24 hours a day (unlike North Korea)? I wonder where they stayed? I doubt it was in one of the nice five-star hotels. Did the visit maybe shake any misconceptions they might have about life outside of North Korea? Somehow I doubt it. It is highly unlikely they would have been allowed to come along if they were not Triple-A Grade devotees to Dear Leader and most of them looked to be in their 40s or 50s so they may have been former military personnel. Off to Australia versus Iraq now, thus I will have seen all three ‘Axis of Evil’ teams.