Arabs “sheering” for the World Cup

An Arab should pick his or her favorite World Cup team carefully. But before I get into that, a quick word about Arabs and this year’s festivities.

Soccer’s premiere tournament makes almost every global citizen disconnect from the real world for a month every four years. Arabs are no exception. Additionally, this year, the last ten days or so of the World Cup will occur during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Now, Ramadan is already a time of very low efficiency in the Arab world, and in this year’s first week and a half of the holiday, as it intersects with the soccer frenzy, the region will be especially unproductive.

That means we should all not expect too much from the Arab world during that time. Gas prices should remain unchanged. Al-Qaeda will fall silent (even terrorists like soccer more than world domination). All hummus shipments to America will be delayed, unless you are buying Sabra, in which case I need to know where your store is located so I can begin my boycott campaign against you.

Ok, back to picking a World Cup team. By the way, many Arabs cannot pronounce “cheer” correctly. It comes out as “sheer.” So, to my Arab comrades, if you are going to “sheer” for everyone this year, these are the rankings and guidelines I propose:

1. Algeria

Algerians are Arabs. They deserve our support more than anyone else for this reason alone. Also, when we curse at them for taking a bad shot, they will actually understand us.

2. Iran

Iranians are almost Arabs. They have the religion, the nose, and the skin tone. Also, white people think we are all the same anyway.

3. Spain

Of course, Spain is not an Arab country. But it used to be, for 700 years. It was, look it up.

4. Any African team

Remember when Qaddafi was the “King of Africa”? Ok, that was kind of a self-given title, but still, almost half of the Arab League states are located in Africa, so sheering for Africans is highly encouraged.

5. Chile

Chile is home to the largest Palestinian community outside of the Arab world, estimated at 500,000 people. It is, look it up.  Of course, Palestinians live all over the place, but that is another story for another day.  There is even a soccer team in Chile called “Palestino,” and its colors are red, green, and white. By my standards, that makes Chile pretty awesome. Sheer for Shile!

6. Portugal

Cristiano Rinaldo is so cute! But it’s not because of his great body, slicked hair, or perfect teeth. No, it’s because he has been vocal about Palestinian rights, even with the full knowledge that it might cost him. So if you’re sheering for Portugal, that’s perfectly fine.

7. Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnians aren’t Arabs. And, as far as I know, almost no Arabs live there. But the country is over 50% Muslim, and, as a result, they show up to our Arab demonstrations. We can express our thanks by sheering for them.

8. Brazil

It is an Arab custom to respect your host, so Brazil is named here. Sheering for them is good manners.

9. Any Latino team

Through their relationship to Spain and the Spanish language, these guys are kind of like us too. They love the name Omar, and 20% of Spanish comes from Arabic. Did you know “Ole!” comes from “Yalla!”? It does!

10. Greece

Greeks are not Arabs, but most Greek restaurants do feature spinach pies and hummus. And they rival us for the hairiest men on the planet. Oh, and did you watch “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? That could have easily been a movie about us.

11. Italy

Italians might be the only people in the world who move their hands when they talk more than we Arabs do. And like us, for them, yelling is an acceptable volume of normal conversation. So if you do sheer for them, make sure you do it loudly.

12. South Korea or Japan

You may sheer for these teams if you like, as they share our customs of drinking way too much tea and having a pile of outdoor shoes and indoor slippers at every exit of the house.

13. Russia

Russia seems to dislike just about everyone in the world, but they also seem to dislike us a little bit less than they dislike everyone else. So, sheer for them at your own risk.

14. Any white country not named America, France, or England

White soccer teams just seem out of place, don’t they? Also, they don’t kiss each other on the cheek when they score, so I just don’t understand them.

15. America

Well, this is a complicated one. As an American, I want to sheer for my country. But when I remember that bombing Arabs is on the platform of basically every politician here, I realize that I can’t. Although we Arab Americans have contributed to America for over a hundred years and done very well here, we find ourselves constantly having to prove that we love this country. We love America, but she needs to love us back. Oh, and the $3 billion a year to Israel make my sheering for them Arab-ly impossible.

16. France or England

Well, if you are an Arab and you are supporting France or England, please decolonize yourself quickly. Their carving up of our lands a hundred years ago created sectarianism and conflict that we are still dealing with today. Our problems are our own, but France and England stirred the pot. If you are sheering for them, go read a book.

Now, there are some teams I would have included high on my list if they had made the World Cup. For example, I would have loved to sheer for India, but c’mon, one billion people and you can’t find 23 good soccer players?

So, there it is. Sheer however you like, but if you follow these rules, your Arabness will stay fully intact.


About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Nice article Amer. Though if would add why you would sheer for a team like France or Belgium because half of their team is African or Arab. :)

  2. Fun read ;) but I might have put Brazil higher – there are TONS of Lebanese and Syrians (and probably other Arabs, too) in Brazil. TONS. And from what I understand, our food is pretty popular there with even sfiha sold in fast food places.

  3. My IQ just dropped 10 Points reading that article … Waste of time … No wonder why “Arabs” like you are the one keeping us behind .. Grow up .. Civil up .. Well .. You’re Palestinian.. you obviously have no idea about what am talkling about .. maybe you should consult the Israelis .. They will help you in that .. AS they developed a space program and a civilized dream land in less than 60 years while arabs like you are still claiming Spain is an arab country .. I think this is enough for now ..

  4. I feel sorry for Odai as his IQ must now be in the single digits with that 10 point loss. I found humor in Amer’s comment about Spain. However, his comment didn’t state that he thought Spain was still an Arab country. And who are the “us” that “Arabs” like Amer are keeping behind? Obviously you have hate for Palestinians so I’m guessing you are not an “Arab” who is sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

    Personally, I believe if you are an American-Arab, you should support America. Sports teams do not reflect or play for the corrupt governments of their country. They represent the country itself and the people within it. All of us who are citizens here, while having the right to criticize and speak up, enjoy the fruits of living here and should take pride in that.

  5. “Now, Ramadan is already a time of very low efficiency in the Arab world, and in this year’s first week and a half of the holiday, as it intersects with the soccer frenzy, the region will be especially unproductive.”

    Hahaha… something like Sleeping Beauty with no prince!

  6. Very comic!! Totally agree with #1 though its a far fetch, Algerians have my true devotion after Palestine, always have. Iran may have our nose and skin tone, but I would never “sheer” them on. And oh lawwwwwd are you right about Ronaldo, he is like the ‘Shata” we put on our hummus or eggs, whichever fits your fancy. Great Piece Amer

  7. Dear Amer:
    As a Chilean living in Palestine I feel dissapointed because here you have flags from all countries but Chile (And I’m talking about all Palestine: Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, East Jerusalem. Even in the area of Beit Jala and Bethlehem the chilean flags of the palestinians/chileans’s homes are there before the World Cup).
    I’m very happy of reading you and see that in your list Chile is at least 5 :)
    Is imposible to understand the chilean culture without Palestine. I’m proud for that.
    Greetings from Al Quds

  8. Definitely NOT cheering for Iran and Russia as theyre governments and many of their followers are complicit and directly responsible for the slaughter of innocent humanity I in Syria, Lebanon. In addition Irnaian govt biggest hypocrite in the standards they set for female athletes yet they are not imposing short length o RR beard length regulations on the male players.

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