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Asia: lethwei martial art in Myanmar and the successes of Afghan cricket

A national sport is developing in the Irrawaddy region of Myanmar, in a delta surrounded by the Bay of Bengal, isolated from other parts of the country and the ongoing civil war there. It’s lethwei, a brutal martial art called the “art of the nine limbs” because every body part can be used in an attack: fists, feet, elbows, knees and head. The players use bare fists and wrap their hands only in thin gauze. Fighters can only win if they knock out their opponent. Otherwise, it is declared a draw.

The Afghan cricket team achieved historic victories at the World Cup in India, gaining fans worldwide and making the nation proud. The Afghans defeated the defending world champions and two former title holders, England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Afghan national team plays under the banner and anthem of the republic that was overthrown in 2021, but the Taliban also support the national team.

Eighteen players of the Afghanistan men’s national soccer team decided to boycott November’s World Cup qualifiers against Qatar in protest against what they call inappropriate treatment by the national soccer federation. Football players point out, among others, attention to corruption in the Afghan Football Federation, which wastes funds from FIFA, and players have to take the worst possible flights and stay in substandard hotels.

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