“Syria’s improbable World Cup bid has pitted player against player, coach against coach — divisions that mirror the conflict that is remaking much of the world. During six years of civil war, at least 470,000 Syrians have died, and life expectancy in the country has dropped from 70 years to 55. Representing a nation with more than 12 million displaced people — roughly half the population — the national soccer team is yet another battleground between the followers and opponents of Bashar al-Assad.” From the excellent Steve Fainaru in ESPN: Backed by FIFA’s tacit support, Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria has woven soccer into its grisly campaign of oppression, tearing apart a generation of players: The Dictator’s Team.