Politics and game competition collide

Saudi Arabian and former Pro Evolution champion withdraws from fourth-annual Electronic Sports World Cup due to being pitted opposite an Israeli.


The ongoing conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians caused a competitor at last weekend's European-based Electronic Sports World Cup to boycott the event--because he was scheduled to play against an Israeli.

"Unfortunately, the draw put me against an Israeli player, and due to our stand against the Israeli aggression and occupation of Palestine, I raised my voice and said there was no way I was going to play against this guy," the English-language newspaper Arab News quoted 21-year-old Badr Hakeem as saying.

"I cannot play against a guy from a country that occupies the holy land of Palestine," he said.

Hakeem, who is from Saudi Arabia, won the Pro Evolution Soccer 4 competition at last year's Electronic Sports World Cup, but he forfeited his chance to win or even compete in the Pro Evolution 5 tournament this year. The Electronic Sports World Cup 2006 also features Counter-Strike, Quake IV, Warcraft 3, and other game tournaments outside the realm of traditional sports, and it wrapped up in Paris, France, over the weekend.

"I know I am losing my title, but I am standing for our cause," Hakeem said. "The title is not important to me. I believe I have made the right decision."

Frenchman Bruce Grannec, also known as "Spank," went on to win the Pro Evolution 5 tournament, while the Israeli player to whom Hakeem objected did not rank in the top eight, according to the final results on the Electronic Sports World Cup's Web site.

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