Iraq to issue stamp in honor of beloved footballer who died from COVID-19
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports on Tuesday announced its intention to issue a stamp that commemorates celebrated Iraqi soccer player Ahmed Radhi who died of coronavirus-related complications two days earlier.
"The stamp that is to be issued will bear the image of Captain Ahmed Radhi, who died after being infected with the novel coronavirus," Youth and Sports Minister Adnan Darjal said in a statement.
An iconic figure in Iraqi football history, the striker made history in the eyes of many his countrymen when he scored in a 2-1 loss to Belgium in the group stage of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Iraq would eventually exit the tournament after failing to secure a single point from three matches, but Radhi was always remembered for that historic moment.
With the national team, Radhi won the Gulf Cup championships in 1984 and 1988. Also in 1988, he was voted Asian Footballer of the Year.
After his retirement from sports, Radhi turned to politics and was elected a member of the Iraqi parliament in the previous legislative session. He also sought a run to lead the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Last week, he tested positive for the coronavirus. Radhi remained at a hospital in Baghdad until being discharged on Thursday as his health reportedly improved.
However, the 56-year-old was readmitted almost immediately, returning to the hospital only hours after his release. He was then expected to travel to Jordan to receive further treatment but passed away early on Sunday.
Tributes for the ex-footballer poured in from politicians to athletes.
The move of printing a stamp in his honor is essentially a symbolic one, instead of one that will result in large numbers of Iraqis buying and using the stamp for postage. Although Iraq has a government-run postal company, there is no widely-used or standardized postal service, as in many other countries.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a condolence message he posted on social media, "Although we lost him, he is alive in the heart of every Iraqi…"
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stated in a similar message that “Ahmed Radhi passed away wearing the green jersey, which we all loved watching him wear.”
“May he rest in peace,” Kadhimi tweeted, making sure to also urge the public to abide by health regulations that limit the spread of the deadly virus.
“The life of every Iraqi is precious. Let’s adhere to health precautions to protect ourselves and our communities, until we get through this difficult time together.”
Editing by John J. Catherine