(Photo via al-shorfa.com)
Despite our differences, the Lebanese tend to unite around the fact that we love football.
So it’s no surprise that when the government announced on Thursday it was banning all spectators from attending the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Qatar, scheduled to happen in Beirut’s Camille Chamoun stadium this weekend, that Lebanese fans across the country threw a collective fit.
The ban apparently came amid fears that fans would talk trash about the Gulf kingdom and somehow hurt Lebanese-Qatari ties.
Bit*ch, please. It’s like an unspoken rule of sports that if your team wins, you’re allowed the privilege of talking smack about the losing team.
And anyone with a reasonable grasp of human nature knows there are two basic things capable of creating a strong bond between people: a mutual hatred of something and a mutual love of something.
Alienating the majority of Lebanese football fans = uniting around a mutual hatred of the state.
Plus, someone in the government must have realized that banning fans from the game would’ve only contributed to a gross escalation of what would have otherwise been good-natured mockery between sports rivalries.
So as of this afternoon, the state has apparently backed out of its ban and thus ended its pre-emptive strike on freedom of speech.
tl;dr – Game on!