The Free Syrian Athletes Union Launched with SBF Support

The Syrian Business Forum (SBF) sponsored the launch of the Free Syrian Athletes Union on Tuesday 18th of September 2012 in Doha, Qatar. The Union was announced by its new board consisting of its president Mr. Yahya Kurdi, an SBF board member and Ambassador of the UNICIF, Mr. Mohammad Yasser Al-Hallaq, Mr. Nizar Kharrat, and Mr. Mohammad Najjar.



The announcement came amid large presence of diplomats such as Mr. Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Sahlawhi, Ambassador and Director of Arab Affairs Department at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the ambassadors of Nepal, Djibouti, Philippines, Chad, India, Iraq, and the acting ambassadors of Russia and Bulgaria in addition to Arab and international media professionals.

A Minute of Silence
The conference was kicked off with a minute of silence to remember Syrian fallen heroes, then was proceeded with a speech by the head of the Union who thanked the government and the people of Qatar for supporting the Syrian revolution. He also assured that the membership is still open for all Syrian athletes inside or outside Syria; in addition, he mentioned that a free and transparent elections for the board membership is to be help in the near future.

Mr. Kurdi said that the Union is actively corresponding and communicating with the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Asian Football Federation as well as the European and African unions to obtain their recognition of the union that represents the Syrian liberal athletes. Furthermore, he mentioned that there are visits being currently scheduled to these unions to further explain and present the Union and to discuss the methods and ways to build a real and genuine sport in Future Syria noting that the union currently has 260 athletes from all walks of sports.

Illegitimacy of the Regime
The general coordinator of the "Union of Free Syrian Athletes" Mr. Yasser Hallaq said that the aim of this union is to further assure the illegitimacy of the Syrian regime which is why all walks of the Syrian society including athletes have been defecting from the regime. He also accused the Syrian Sports Federation of discrimination against athletes based on their loyalty to the regime referencing what happened to the 2004 Athens Olympic bronze winner, Nasser Al-Shami, who was paralyzed after being shot at in the city of Hama and never got any help from the Syrian Union and ended up having to escape to Jordan.

Notable, Mr. Hallaq was the head of the Syrian Professional Athletes in the Syrian Football Federation, after being a referee; he also was imprisoned by the regime before he fled out of Syria.

Never Late
Answering one of the press questions, Mr. Nizar Kharrat said that the announcement of the Union is not late because everybody was expecting the fast fall of the regime in Syria if not for the support of some countries which pushed athletes to form their own entity. He also noted that it has taken months of attempts until the Union as it is now has been formed.

Mr. Mohammad Najar told the press that currently there are 12 Syrian teams that can represent Syria in international tournaments; he also assured that athletes inside Syrian support this Union.