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Rivals boo each other’s anthems

Iraq fans fail to acknowledge Kuwaiti chorus at Gulf football tournament

Gulf News

Manama: While there has been some good-natured banter between rival sets of supporters outside the stadium, behaviour inside the grounds — particularly during the national anthems — has left much to be desired.

Some Iraq fans booed the Kuwaiti national anthem before Wednesday’s Group B match at Khalifa Stadium in Isa Town, prompting an Iraqi cheerleader to ask for respect from his fellow supporters. His attempts fell on deaf ears.

It mimicked Saudi fan’s similar disrespect for the Iraqi national anthem on Sunday, with political divisions between all three nations well-documented.

Iraq continued to jeer Kuwait at every touch of the ball in a spirit alien to what the Gulf Cup is intended to be about — many fans here are wearing two scarfs and more than one nation’s shirt underneath the other, particularly as games are on one after another and often in the same stadium.

While away from the match, it’s almost a competition to see who can act politest — getting through a door often becomes a chore as representatives from each nation bid to outdo each other’s famed Arab hospitality — things can at times be quite the opposite.

Some scenes that have restored faith in the mutual respect for rival sets of supporters here include Bahrain fans’ enthusiastic support of Oman. The host supporters had entered the stadium midway through the Oman-Qatar game on Tuesday, ahead of their own match with the UAE.

Another eye-opener was the action of an Emirati fan, who paused in disappointment, before hugging a Bahraini supporter overjoyed at their equaliser over the Emirates.