US Paid $1M for Iraq Soccer Field With No Bleachers or Lights

Monday, 19 May 2014 10:04 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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A soccer field in Baghdad cost taxpayers in the United States more than $1 million but doesn't have lights, bleachers, changing rooms, or showers, The Washington Post reported.

The field was part of the clean-up program in the Sadr City section of Iraq's capital when the United States gave millions to the Iraqis after years of civilian strife and war.

The contractor of the field, who the Post didn't identify, said that he was paid $1.1 million to renovate the "pitch" – one of several makeshift soccer fields that had fallen into disrepair after sometimes even being used as killing fields by Shiite militias to execute enemies.

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The teams who play Iraq's favorite sport on the Sadr City field have to wash in a nearby shop while local businessmen have to pay for new dirt when parts of the pitch wash away due to heavy rains.

The United States also paid around $1 million each to renovate two other soccer fields in the Ghazaliyah section of Baghdad. However, those fields are no longer used for soccer, and instead have become garbage dumps full of broken bottles and burning trash, according to the Post.

Meanwhile, soccer games in Baghdad, usually played by young Iraqis, have turned violent as sectarian fighting between the Sunnis and Shiites has suddenly increased in the past year.

The fields have been especially targeted by al-Qaida-linked terror group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, to inflict civilian casualties on the Shiites, according to the Post.

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