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While I sympathize with Coach Strange, and couldn't agree more that sports can serve an important role as a symbol in the process and progress of normalization, from the first moents of the war he has lashed out at US policy while remaining astonishingly blind to the conditions under which the program was run prior to the first M1A1A appearing on the horizon.

His outrage a few months ago about the Iraqi National stadium being used as a tank park has never been matched by any sort of acknowledgement that the players who performed there were subjected to Uday Hussein's wrath when they failed to live up to his expectations. Indeed, the former team Captain, who played under Herr Strange, has reported being brutally whipped and then tossed into a vat of human excrement to guarantee that the wounds would become infected, all because his play had displeased Saddam's Lion Cub.

Strange has remained, pardon the expression, strangely silent on all of this. Iraq's national team players have all expressed great joy at being able to play without fear of punishment for failure, and have begun making plans to participate in International tournaments in 2004.

Meanwhile, Herr Strange, who headed a soccer program whose headquarters building, which housed his own office, had a torture chamber and prison cells in the basement, can do no better than complain about the US not ripping up the pitch at the new Home Depot Center in LA (where the Women's World Cup final was held, and where this "leftover sod" must apparently be, which will be a surprise to the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer) and airlifting it to Baghdad.

Bernd Strange needs to get just a little grip on reality.

Bill Archer

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