Syrian football’s new season restarts to echoes of gunfire

Syrian football’s new season restarts to echoes of gunfire

DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
Despite no sign of an end to the two-year civil war destroying Syria, there was a little sign of normality on Feb. 12 as the new football season got underway.

Two thousand spectators, mostly people displaced by the conflict that was estimated by the United Nations on Tuesday to have claimed 70,000 lives, turned up at a stadium in Damascus to watch Al-Wathba from Homs play Al-Jazeera of Al-Hasakah.

Played to a backdrop of distant artillery fire, it was a high-octane match, with the central Syrian city of Homs known by the rebels as the ‘capital of the revolution’ while there is fierce fighting going on in Al-Hasakah in the north-east of the country, largely populated by Kurds.

Al-Wathba won 1-0.

Two other matches took place in Damascus which, just as was the case last year, will host the league championship because of the impact of the conflict on other parts of the country.

The 60 best players are plying their trade outside Syria and the Al-Foutoua team has withdrawn from the league because of “the difficult conditions in Deir ez-Zor,” and also due to the transfer of most of their players to other teams.