Top Libyan Soccer Players Defect

Goalie tells Gadhafi to 'leave us alone'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2011 10:08 AM CDT

(Newser) – Moammar Gadhafi has reportedly lost top military officials to defection, and now he'll have to do without his star soccer goalie. Juma Gtat and 17 other players from the national team have switched allegiance to the rebels, reports the BBC. "I am telling (Ghadafi) leave us alone and allow us to create a free Libya," says Gtat. "In fact I wish he would leave this life altogether," he added, laughing.

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Given soccer's popularity in North Africa, the defections are a big propaganda win for the rebels, says Al Arabiya. It notes that teams in Tunisia and elsewhere have mostly remained on the political sidelines, which has caused friction with fans. Still, the rebels need something more tangible than propaganda, writes BBC correspondent Mark Doyle. They "still need to win some decisive military victories if they are to advance." (Read more Libya stories.)

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