Outside of Spain, few places in the world can boast more fervent support of Barcelona and Real Madrid than Iraq.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, some 3,5000 miles from the action, locals are obsessed with La Liga’s two biggest teams. When they face each other in El Clasico, bars and coffee houses are segregated between rivals fans and police presence is increased as people celebrate, commiserate and fight long into the night.
According to a report in Baghdad newspaper Al Zaman, carried by Spanish newspaper Sport, passion between rival fans spilled over into violence and murder this week.
On Monday, a Barcelona supporter in Madain — a city a few miles south of Baghdad — supposedly argued with a Real Madrid-supporting friend in a gaming arcade. The Barca fan then reportedly “slaughtered” his friend with a knife, in full view of several witnesses.
Arabs Today add the chilling detail that the Madrid fan was actually beheaded by his former friend. An Iraqi Interior Ministry source told them:
“A fight broke out on Monday night at the Games Hall in Aldjaarh, between two friends, one of whom supported Barcelona and the other who supported Real Madrid.”
The source added that events took a dramatic turn when the Barcelona fan took out a knife and stabbed his friend several times, before “beheading him in public.”
“Witnesses at the Hall captured the offender and called the police, who rushed to the scene and took him to a security centre for interrogation. The dead body was taken to the forensic medical department for a post-mortem.”
According to Al Zaman, this isn’t the first trouble between Iraqi Barcelona and Madrid fans. Last April (presumably on the day of Los Blancos’ 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp) a violent knife fight between rivals fans broke out at a coffee shop in Karbala, with several people injured.