Kazakhstan to Ali G: We play footbal!

As humans we like to define everything in singularities. Personalities, concepts, countries. Some are flattering, others less so. Mahatma Gandhi: Non-violence. Martin Luther King: Civil rights. Michael Miliken: Junk bond king. Brazil: Football.
However, one cannot remember when a fictional character defines a country so definitively as Borat Sagdiyev does Kazakhstan. Or when a country’s foreign policy is exclusively devoted to refuting his existence or the tasteless portrayal of their country. Mind you, Kazakhstan is not a blip on the map. It happens to be the 9th largest country in the world and an increasingly important country with its vast oil reserves.
Borat is emblematic of bigotry and prejudices that occur in every part of the world. Sasha Baron- Cohen unfortunately chose a Kazkahstani to bring these aspects to life.
Borat’s opinions extend to the football world as in a TV outtake, he mocks the hapless Paul Robinson’s swishing foot meeting empty air as Gary Neville scored an own goal against in England’s humiliation against Croatia. Borat’s satirical take on the match -“Your tackle is nice” and “I like your Wags” The clip earned 20th Century Fox unprecedented publicity for their movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The movie opened last week and has already beaten Fahrenheit 911, as the top selling documentary. However Kazakhstani’s may rest easy, as Borat’s journey through the USA makes a mockery out of our supposed open mindedness and embrace of different ethnic and religious groups.
There is only one antidote to this one sided portrayal of Kazakhstan. They must do well in Euro 2008 or qualify for the World Cup 2010. Nothing soothes the national conscience or produces a level of confidence as football does. We can see what the World Cup did to increase Germans belief in themselves or to soothe Italy’s sour mood following the Serie scandal.
Kazakhstan’s national coach is Arno Pijpers and the Kazakh’s are still searching for their first win in their Euro campaign. They go up against Portugal in their next match.

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