Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 25 APR 2014
12:59 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Lebanon News
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Lebanon united
The crowd cheers on the Lebanese football players.
The crowd cheers on the Lebanese football players.
A+ A-

BEIRUT: Lebanese put their differences aside Tuesday to celebrate a stunning World Cup qualifying victory by the national football team that provided a temporary respite from the country’s increasingly menacing political climate.

A 2-1 win over fancied South Korea at Beirut’s Camille Chamoun Stadium left Lebanon on the brink of an unprecedented final round of qualification for the 2014 tournament in Brazil and prompted a rare display of national unity.

“Delighted [and] proud of our national football team,” Prime Minister Najib Mikati posted on his Twitter feed after the final whistle. “Congrats to all.”

“My congratulations go to each and every player on the national team, to the Lebanese Football Federation and to all my countrymen and women,” former Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted. “[O]ur hopes are high, Lebanon will qualify for the first time to the World Cup.”

Mikati invited the players to the Grand Serail where they were congratulated by Cabinet members. He said the victory offered an example for Lebanon’s warring politicians.

“When we asked the team who scored the winning goal, they responded: ‘We all did,’” Mikati said. “We learned a lesson from this short visit, that the government should be a unified team working toward one goal: Success and winning.”

The players were each awarded LL10 million ($6,645) by Cabinet for the performance.

Tuesday’s victory brought temporary relief from the political storm building on the country’s controversial role over Syria. Lebanon voted against the Arab League’s decision over the weekend to suspend Syria from the organization as a punishment for its ongoing security crackdown, a stance that drew condemnation from the March 14 coalition and the international community.

In addition, the issue of funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon remains unresolved and could subject the economy to international sanctions if a United Nations deadline for financial assistance is missed.

Beirut was rendered a virtual standstill by Tuesday’s game, with several schools closing early and thousands of residents following events on television sets at work or at home.

An estimated 40,000 fans braved the poor weather to witness in person what constitutes the best ever win by the national team. First-half goals from Ali al-Saadi and Abbas Atwi were enough to see off a South Korea side ranked 112 places above Lebanon by world footballing body FIFA.

President Michel Sleiman arrived at the stadium at half-time and took to the pitch after the final whistle to congratulate the players, some of whom broke down in tears at victory over the former World Cup semifinalists.

A heavy security presence crowded the stands, with Lebanese Army, Internal Security Forces and riot police squads on hand to smother any signs of unrest. The game passed without major security incident, no small feat considering all spectators were banned from attending domestic league matches following a spate of football-related violence in the middle of last decade.

Celebrities from singer Haifa Wehbe to Miss Lebanon Yara Khoury-Mikhael congratulated the national team, who with a win over the United Arab Emirates in February will progress to the next round of Asian World Cup qualification.

Fans began streaming into Camille Chamoun more than two hours before kickoff, taking advantage of the free admission. Some rival Hezbollah and Future Movement followers chanted some political slogans before the match but both sets eventually united chants to spur on the Lebanese players. The final whistle was greeted with a wall of sound as cheers, drums and fireworks set the soundtrack for a pitch invasion by delirious fans.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 16, 2011, on page 1.
Home Lebanon News
 
     
 
fooball / cheering / national unity / Lebanon
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
More from
Patrick Galey
 
 
STL not investigating false witnesses, says tribunal’s registrar on Twitter
 
 
Special Tribunal says will not probe 'false witnesses'
 
 
Beirut complains to U.N. over Israel attack
 
 
Hezbollah: Israel detonated spying device in south
 
 
STL: Funding will facilitate key projects
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Thursday April 24, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS