Not Very Sporting

The BBC anti-Bush sniffer dogs were quick to uncover the story of Iraqi Olympic footballers criticising Bush, and swift to publish. The story was based on a Sports Illustrated interview with team members, and their coach.

The BBC reported:

‘Midfielder Salih Sadir said the team – which won its group stage in Greece – was angry it had been used in Mr Bush’s re-election campaign ads.’ This would have been a good opportunity for the BBC to have used their famous ‘scare-quotes’, but for some reason they missed it.

They also fail to point out that the Iraqi football team are not mentioned in the ad., titled ‘victory’.

It would be clearer to point out, as S.I. pointed out, that Bush ‘is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.’- even though the Olympic teams of Iraq and Afghanistan are neither obviously pictured or directly mentioned in the ad. Even while sourcing their report with S.I. the BBC manage to make it less clear.

When midfielder Sadir says “Iraq as a team does not want Mr Bush to use us for the presidential campaign,” the BBC fail to make clear that he cannot be speaking for the Iraq Olympic team as a whole- even though he might like to.

One further way in which S.I. outperforms the BBC is in describing the backgrounds of the players. Unlike S.I., the BBC fail to mention that Sadir hails from Najaf- a fact that in current circumstances might seem significant. I don’t think ‘Sadir- from Najaf-‘ would have cluttered their page too much.

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9 Responses to Not Very Sporting

  1. StinKerr says:

    What a load of crap! I wonder what the S.I. reporter said to elicit these responses and how many players he/she had to interview to get the desired results. Of course the Beeb is going to jump on this, it’s anti-Bush. Never mind that it has no basis in fact. They don’t seem to let facts get in the way any more.

    I watched the video twice. The voice over says that there are two more democratic nations at the Olympics and the Afghan and Iraqi flags are briefly displayed. Talk about making a mountain out of a hole in the ground…


  2. THFC says:

    Once again this looks from a British point a view like irrelevant, un-newsworthy fluff.

    However Bush has specifically referred to the Iraqi footie team as representing the ‘success’ of his Iraqi policy (was reported to be thinking about attending the final before they got hammered by Paraguay) and they obviously have every right to respond if they resent this. The worst part of the whole affair was the British coach who said the players had been stitched up and were ‘politically naive’ – as though they weren’t allowed their own opinion.


  3. Lee says:


    I may be stupid, but I cannot follow your argument. Are you referring to your own comments when you say ‘irrelevant, un- newsworthy fluff’?


  4. Lee says:


    I cannot quite follow your argument. Where you referring to your own comments when you referred to ‘irrelevant, un- newsworthy fluff’?


  5. Rob Read says:

    The SCBBC also “accidentally” fail to mention why the team are pleased Uday is dead. Why they wouldn’t be playing if sanctions were still in place etc. etc. etc.

    To think I could go to jail if I stopped paying for these 5th columnists!


  6. ed says:

    THFC – what’s a ‘British point of view’? I thought the BBC were the British point of view?

    You are right when you say that Bush has specifically mentioned the Iraqi football team- and S.I. mention that bush directly raised their success in a campaign address- but the BBC only refer to the advertisement.

    I’ve no objection to criticism of that casual- or even calculated- comment, but to create the impression that it’s being packaged and exploited on television is, along with other false impressions in the same item (which someone else got to first and did better imho), is not good

    Another significant fact: S.I. make clear that the issue of the campaign ad. was raised in questioning from the journalist himself:

    ‘when asked about Bush’s TV advertisement.’

    IraqtheModel picked up on that- yet the BBC is incapable, or what, would you say?


  7. THFC says:

    From the British point of view (as represented somewhat unscientifically by me and my mates) all of these advertisements, accusations and microanalyses of the candidates ‘character’ look like a load of old b*llocks to the extent that they seem to be completely overshadowing the policies of the candidates and the underlying issues.

    I think that the BBC needs to report the impact that these stories has on the American electorate and consequently the candidate’s chances (and has been rightly criticised for ignoring the Vietnam flapping) but I’d like to think we’re above suffering the intricate details. Maybe one summary a week would suffice?

    I commented on the Iraqi Olympic issues because I thought it was quite amusing that the Bush fans were dismissing that having bigged up the Kerry controversy, but the same goes for Kerry fans having prattled on about Bush bunking off Vietnam. I suppose everyone needs something to be passionate about.


  8. ed says:

    Obviously the way the Presidential candidates campaigns are important. Consequently specific misrepresentations of them in the media are also important. The BBC in this case exaggerated the nature of the adverts because they relied on the S.I. story and left some significant details out.

    There is more to it though than just the campaign, since US public feeling towards Iraq, and the Iraqis’ feelings towards the US, will have an influence on how things pan out- where livelihoods and lives are at stake.

    I didn’t consider it an ‘election’ story- more a story about Iraq, where the Beeb tends to like finding fault with the US.

    Ok, this controversy will have a small effect, but many a mickle makes a muckle as the saying goes. The strange thing is that tendentious stories left unchallenged tend to have a much greater impact than those that are challenged- unless of course the challenge itself is unjust.


  9. ed says:


    ‘campaigns are’ should be ‘campaign is’ in first para of above post.