Failed attempts to regulate football sport in Idlib 

Sports figures in the Free Syrian Football Association during a meeting with club representatives in Idlib - 1 October 2022 (Enab Baladi / Anas al-Khouli)

Sports figures in the Free Syrian Football Association during a meeting with club representatives in Idlib - 1 October 2022 (Enab Baladi / Anas al-Khouli)


Enab Baladi – Idlib

The sports sector in the northern city of Idlib is witnessing attempts to organize and advance it to higher levels, especially with regard to football competitions, such as organizing tournaments and creating the appropriate environment for the expansion of sports activity.

But sports directorates, bodies, entities, and clubs face many obstacles that hinder the performance of clubs and the sector as a whole.

Conference for discussion, proposals

The Sports and Youth directorate at the Free Syrian Football Association of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) held on 1 October, the general conference in Idlib for the 2022-2023 season, with the participation of representatives of local clubs in the region.

The conference included a presentation of the annual plan of the association, the football league calendar for the first, second and third division clubs, which number about 40 clubs, defining the age groups for competitions, and the cup championship called the “Martyrs’ Cup.”

Firas Teet, the head of the Idlib Football Association, told Enab Baladi that the conference is a friendly discussion between the association and the club’s delegates, during which the association distributed disciplinary regulations, bylaws, and competition regulations and received notes and suggestions from club delegates, which will be discussed and studied later by the association.

The study of discipline regulations and the work calendar took more than two months, with the aim of avoiding previous mistakes, regulating football work, and reducing violations committed by clubs, Teet said.

The head of Kafr Daryan Club, Mohammad Sobhi Jawad, told Enab Baladi that the conference was an opportunity to convey the clubs’ concerns and problems and that some of the clubs’ delegates raised reservations and objections to the laws and regulations that were placed on the association’s table.

The most prominent objections centered on defining the age groups for the clubs, reducing some penalties in the disciplinary regulations, and requesting the postponement of the start of the league, especially in the second-tier competitions.

Modest financial support

Despite the regulatory efforts in the sector, football competitions are facing problems that affect the work of clubs and their bids within the green rectangle (stadium).

The number of first-degree clubs is 14, second-degree 12 clubs, and third-tier 16 clubs, subject to increase since the period of fixing new club names is ongoing by the association.

Mohammad Sobhi Jawad, head of Kafr Daryan Club, said the lack of financial support is the most prominent problem that the clubs suffer, denying the existence of any facilities or financial assistance by the concerned authorities, whether from the sports association or the Salvation Government.

Jawad added that financial support is absent from the clubs in the simplest fields, whether in the form of a transportation allowance for clubs, arbitration allowance, or equipment, pointing out that the clubs submitted their demands to the association, and the latter promised to submit them to the Salvation Government.

Mohannad Kharfan, the president of Ariha Club, agrees with Jawad that the problem of lack of financial support is the biggest obstacle for the clubs, noting that the association itself needs financial support in order to rise in the sports system as well.

For his part, Firas Teet made it clear that the financial support is not in the hands of the association, which has many plans and proposals, but they are not listened to by the Salvation Government.

One of the proposals made by Teet is that the responsibility for the financial support of each club lies with the active local council in the club’s area, but the matter requires governmental approval and an enforceable decision.

Initial plan

The sports sector in the areas under the control of the Salvation Government has witnessed a development, especially at the level of sports facilities, while the financial support from it to the clubs is limited to some aspects of the first-degree clubs, and it is absent from the second and third-league clubs, amid demands that have been repeated over the years.

The clubs’ demands escalated, especially after the Salvation Government, which controls Idlib governorate and part of the western countryside of Aleppo, Latakia countryside, and al-Ghab Plain, northwest of Hama, represented by the Sports and Youth Directorate, rehabilitated the municipal stadium in Idlib last August, at the cost of 225,000 US dollars.

The strategy official in the Sports and Youth Directorate, Mohammad Sibai, told Enab Baladi that the directorate’s administration sought to develop the sports sector and support sports clubs, and there is a tendency from it to support clubs within a phased plan.

Sibai added that the plan began with subsidizing the wages of refereeing matches for first-class clubs as an initial step, then the directorate headed to restore facilities and improve infrastructure conditions.

He also explained that the directorate would work in later stages to increase the support of the clubs according to a future plan that will raise the clubs to the required level.

Efforts are still limited to meeting the requirements of clubs, developing sports, and avoiding previous mistakes amid difficult conditions and a lack of services in the areas of northern Syria in general and the sports sector in particular.



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