Syrian women storm football world

Female fans in the stands of the Syrian al-Wehda Club - May 24, 2023 (Facebook/al-Wehda Club)

Female fans in the stands of the Syrian al-Wehda Club - May 24, 2023 (Facebook/al-Wehda Club)


Enab Baladi – Yamen Moghrabi

The sport of soccer is witnessing an increasing interest among women in Syria in terms of encouragement and interaction by attending matches live in the stadiums.

The girls are not satisfied with following the local league only but also follow the news of the various football teams, especially the European ones, and the preference of the players and the encouragement of their teams in the continental championships, such as the World Cup, the European Championship and others.

This interest ranges from interacting with the momentum generated by the sporting event itself and its occupation of a wide area of comments and encouragement of the wide sports segment following the tournaments to the interest in the game itself, especially with the development and spread of women’s football.

Not restricted to males

One of the most prominent stereotypes associated with football is that it is a male game that has nothing to do with women, considering that the most famous, market value and widespread tournaments are the men’s side of the game, and it also carries violent physical confrontations at times.

“Football is not a male game, and it is not exclusive to males,” Noura Mansour, a Syrian journalist residing in the Netherlands, told Enab Baladi.

Mansour, who played soccer, believes that the form of the game and the social customs and traditions in Syria imposed a form of masculinity on soccer.

“The old way of life carried the idea that the male has the right to play football in the streets and stadiums and to watch it, but it is not like that in the first place,” she adds.

Mansour told Enab Baladi that she loved the game and enjoyed playing it, but she did not feel that she had the talent to pursue it.

Women’s foray into the world of football does not depend only on creating women’s teams or using women to referee matches, but they also break into the world of coaching.

Maha Junoud is the first Syrian woman to enter the world of training men’s soccer teams in Syria, and she previously played in the ranks of the al-Muhafaza club and the Syrian national team, according to her statements to the Russian news agency Sputnik in 2021.

Junoud said at the time that the most prominent problem that Syria and West Asian countries suffer from is the lack of female human resources in terms of female trainers and physical equipment.

In addition to Syria, a great interest has emerged in several Arab countries in recent years in women’s football, as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon have women’s football teams.

Ninar Hassan, a Syrian residing in France, told Enab Baladi that she loves football because it combines individual and collective charm, and this is the first reason.

The second reason is related to her mother, who was fascinated by the way the late Brazilian soccer legend Pele played.

Hassan added that, in addition to Barcelona’s matches with its men’s and women’s teams, there are the French and English leagues, and she believes that the Premier League is the most exciting football compared to other leagues.

Like Mansour, Hassan does not believe that football is a game for males only, as she said that males may “try to take possession of it in order to release feelings of anger and nervousness and compete through it, but it is basically not like that.”

Mansour confirmed that she is a great supporter of women’s football, followed the Women’s World Cup, and worked to cover its news in 2019.

She added to Enab Baladi that she will follow the next Women’s World Cup, which will be held in July 2023, and will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and the Arab countries will be absent from it, with the exception of Morocco.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is held every four years and was launched for the first time in 1991. Thirty-two teams are currently participating in it.

Syria Women’s National Team 2018 (Kooora)

Syria Women’s National Team 2018 (Kooora)

Syrian women fans of European clubs

In 2020, Amuda Football Club achieved the first women’s football league championship in Syria and competed with six other clubs, which are “Shortet Hama,” “Jaramana,” “al-Muhafaza Damascus,” “Ommal al-Sowada” and “al-Muhafaza Homs,” noting that it was established in 2018.

Mansour, a fan of Real Madrid FC, said that she did not support any local football club except for the “al-Karamah” football club (of central Homs governorate, which is considered one of the most famous Syrian clubs). Al-Karamah FC shone between 2006 and 2009 and reached the final of the AFC Champions League in 2006.

Despite her departure from Syria several years ago, Mansour follows from time to time the news of the players of this golden generation, who have a clear position on the Syrian regime. One of them was Abdul Basit al-Sarout, former goalkeeper of al-Karamah FC and Syrian Association football.

Al-Sarout, who represented Syria at the U-17 and U-20 levels, was killed during one of the battles against the Syrian regime in 2019. 

Hassan also does not follow the local league teams, but before leaving Syria, she followed Lebanese basketball and encouraged the Lebanese al-Hikma Club.

Bushra, an ophthalmologist from Latakia (who asked to withhold her full name), said that she only follows football at the time of the World Cup, considering that it is like a global celebration, an event that the whole world lives in, merges with the tournament and encourages the Brazilian national team.

“I feel very excited during the World Cup matches as if I have loved football since I was a little girl,” Bushra said, adding that the World Cup is like a contiguous state of joy and enthusiasm.

Although Latakia has one of the most competitive Syrian football derbies between the al-Madina FC, Hottin FC, and Tishreen FC, she has never watched a match in the stadium.

Bushra attributed the matter to the fact that the “Latakia Derby” match usually turns into an occasion for creating problems between the fans in the stands, which turns into insults between the two club fans, and throwing stones, and sometimes people get injured.

However, in her interview with Enab Baladi, she pointed to the spread of the culture of encouraging Syrian football teams in her city of Latakia recently and the increasing number of invitations to attend these matches in the stadium, not behind the screen.

Pictures circulating on social media show young Syrian women while attending the Tishreen Club matches in particular, some of whom belong to the Tishreen Club Women’s Association, which was established in 2017.

Cafés in several Syrian cities are usually filled with young men and women cheering European and South American teams during the World Cup matches.

Photos circulated from Damascus also showed the presence of a large number of young women in the Umayyad Square in the center of the capital to watch the matches live or to encourage the Syrian national team during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the UAE-held 2019 Asian Cup.

The UAE stadiums, which hosted the same qualifying matches, also witnessed a large presence of women in the stands.

The Moroccan national team’s supremacy in the last World Cup in Qatar 2022 witnessed great female interaction through social media pages.

Information indicates that Aleppo city witnessed the establishment of the first women’s soccer team in the Middle East in 1950, while other information indicates that it was established in 1971.



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