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Dropping the ball

Kazakhstan plays Iran’s anthem to welcome Syrian basketball team

As hosts fumble pre-game honors, Syrian players politely listen and then sing the correct song

Screen capture from video of the Syrian national basketball team listening as the Iranian national anthem is erroneously played in their honor before a game in the first leg of Asian qualifiers for World Cup 2023 in Kazakhstan, November 27, 2023. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of the Syrian national basketball team listening as the Iranian national anthem is erroneously played in their honor before a game in the first leg of Asian qualifiers for World Cup 2023 in Kazakhstan, November 27, 2023. (Twitter)

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s sports federation has complained to basketball’s world governing body after Kazakhstan welcomed its team with the Iranian national anthem, instead of the Syrian, to the game at the first leg of Asian qualifiers for World Cup 2023.

Syrian players appeared perplexed when the song was played by the Kazakh hosts at the start of the game on Saturday in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Still, they clapped after the anthem was finished.

After a huddle and before the game started, the Syrians sang their own national anthem on the court. The technical team cheered them on.

Syria lost to the Kazakh team 74 to 84. Another match is scheduled for the home crowd on Monday in Damascus, Syria. Syria and Kazakhstan play in the same group with Iran and Bahrain.

Firas Moualla, the head of the Syrian General Sports Federation, was quoted in pro-government Al-Watan newspaper saying he has complained to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The Syrian Federation also complained to the Kazakh foreign ministry, he said.

The head of Syria’s Basketball Federation Tarif Qutrash blamed the Kazakh and Asian Federations for the mistake, saying the Kazakh team will be fined.

The Asian qualifiers run from November to February 2023, with each national team playing home and away games in each tournament.

The next World Cup — to be hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia — takes place from August 25 until September 10, 2023.

Ironically, a national anthem mishap had previously affected Kazakhstan’s national shooting team. In 2012, a fictional national anthem from the comedy film “Borat” was played, instead of the real one, at a medal ceremony at championships in Kuwait.

The team asked organizers for an apology. The ceremony for the Kazakh gold medalist was later rerun.

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