My thriller “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo” – part of the Brother Half Angel series – has a sub-theme that involves soccer. One of the protagonists – an Egyptian Islamist – is crazy about the sport, and this forms a back-drop to a clash in the book between Muslims and Christians.
One of the leading Mideast soccer powers, along with Egypt, is Iran, which has competed four times at the World Cup. I was interested to see that its captain is a Christian. According to a recent report in The Guardian:
As Iran’s national football team prepared to head to the World Cup last year, Andranik Teymourian stood next to his teammates while they lined up to kiss the holy Islamic book, the Koran, as part of the farewell ceremony.
Although he is not a Muslim, the Iranian Armenian didn’t want to rock the boat and so performed the ritual for travellers, which is a quintessential part of Iranian culture. The cleric holding up the Qur’an could hardly disguise his amusement at the scene.
The 32-year-old midfielder, known as Ando – or Samurai, due to his hairstyle – is not shy of showing his Christianity, often crossing himself on the field.
In other soccer news, the Daily Pakistan newspaper presents “Five reasons Pakistani Women’s Football team will make you a fan!” On display are five very attractive players.
Reason #3 is Joyann Geraldine Thomas – “She is not just the first Christian woman to play for the Pakistani women’s football team, but also one of the youngest. She made her international debut shortly after turning 17, in 2014.”
Finally, devoutly Christian Brazilian soccer star David Luiz was recently baptized, and he took the occasion to announce that he would not engage in sex with his girlfriend until after they were married. This led to press reports that he was a virgin.
For some reason this angered Luiz, who accused the press of a lack of respect. “I’m not a virgin. I’ve had more than one girlfriend in my life,” he announced. “Some people in the press don’t respect people in life. I can put my head on my pillow and sleep great because I respect everyone. My religion, my baptism, I’m very happy.”