Fines impoverish clubs and do not control Syrian football riots
Enab Baladi – Hassan Ibrahim
The series of financial fines continues to be imposed by the Syrian Football Association on league clubs, their administrators, players, and fans who support them, accompanied by administrative penalties of suspension and ban on attendance.
As soon as a round of the Premier League, which includes 12 clubs, was completed, the decisions of the Disciplinary Committee of the Football Association came out, carrying a series of fines for clubs suffering from financial hardship, creating a wave of denunciation and criticism, to the point that the Football Association began to be called a “tax center” and a “gang.”
From the start of the league on September 22 until the end of the eighth round on December 8, the value of the fines imposed by the Football Association amounted to more than 74 million Syrian pounds (about $5,250), according to what Enab Baladi monitored.
Most of the penalties are related to incidents of rioting, insults, and attacks on referees or the audience, and stadiums in Syria have turned into a “battlefield” due to these incidents. They have become a widespread phenomenon in most competitions and tournaments and are not limited to football competitions.
Jableh threatens to suspend participation
On November 30, the Disciplinary Committee of the Syrian Football Association accepted the appeal from the Jableh Club in form and reduced the penalties on the team’s player, Abdul-Ilah al-Hafyan, from a full year’s suspension to six matches, with a fine of 500,000 Syrian pounds.
The punishment was for Abdul-Ilah al-Hafyan for his “disgraceful behavior by directing gestures with indecent gestures and making a slaughter signal” to the Tishreen fans after the end of his team’s match in the seventh round. The Disciplinary Committee imposed fines on Jableh Club in the amount of eight million pounds, and ten million on Tishreen.
Despite the appeal, Jableh Club objected to the decision and issued a statement threatening to suspend its participation in the league if the six-match ban imposed on its player al-Hafyan was not reduced.
In its statement, the club made a comparison between the reasons for easing the sanctions on the Tishreen and Hittin clubs and the events that imposed the punishment on al-Hafyan, considering that the behavior of its player was for the first time and did not lead to additional problems or widespread riots, according to the statement.
The club’s management demanded that the Jableh team be treated similarly and that the player’s punishment be reduced, with astonishment and questioning about the decision to reduce the punishment for the al-Wahda professional player’s suspension to one match by the decision of the Appeals Committee, while al-Hafyan’s punishment was a six-match suspension.
Tishreen and Hittin: Unfair decisions
On December 3, the Disciplinary Committee punished the Tishreen and Hittin teams by holding a match without an audience, in addition to fines for Tishreen in the amount of 8 million pounds and 5 million pounds for Hittin.
In separate statements, the two clubs called on the Football Association to intervene and put an end to the “unfair decisions” issued by the Disciplinary Committee against the clubs and fans and to take the interest of Syrian sports and its image abroad into account before making any decision.
The two clubs addressed the rest of the clubs to call for an extraordinary general assembly to intervene and take a unified position on all sanctions issued.
Two days later, the Disciplinary Committee decided to accept what it called the letters of petition from Hittin and Tishreen regarding the penalty for holding a match for each team without an audience after pledging not to repeat the violation on the condition that the violation be tightened to automatically become two matches without an audience in the event of a repetition, which is a decision that is not subject to appeal, while financial penalties remain unchanged.
In the 2022-2023 season, al-Jazira Sport Club had a major share of penalties, as the Football Association imposed non-final decisions on it, subject to appeal, due to the club’s failure to attend a match against al-Ahly Aleppo Club at Al-Jalaa Stadium in Damascus, on January 7, 2023.
The most prominent penalties were the exclusion of al-Jazira Club from the Premier League competition, the cancellation of all its results in the league championship as they affected the final standings, the imposition of a fine of ten million Syrian pounds, the club’s relegation to the lowest division, and withholding of the club’s remaining participation revenues in the league championship.
The Football Association’s decisions against al-Jazira Club were met with condemnation and criticism by the latter, who described the Association as a “gang,” according to a statement in which it said that the Association’s decision “is an honor for us because we stood up to injustice and demanded our rights, and this issue will be revisited later.”
The statement continued by saying that everyone has become a witness to “the gang that is helping to destroy sports, whether they are from the people of al-Hasakah, with all regret for them, or from the halls of the Association in Damascus (Al-Jazira Club is one of the clubs in al-Hasakah governorate, northeastern Syria).
The club addressed the rest of the clubs, saying, “If you want to stay in the Premier League, play without speaking or demanding any right.”
A sports law that restricts clubs
Criticism of financial penalties and fines is not limited to clubs and players, as the president of al-Ittihad Aleppo Club, Rasin Martini criticized them in August 2022 and stated that all stadiums in the world have surveillance cameras and law enforcement officers trained for riot situations, and it is their responsibility to identify and capture abusers, and impose penalties on them.
Martini renewed his criticism on November 28 and said that the law governing sports work restricts Syrian clubs and sports, and the solutions to chronic problems lie in changing the general structure, partnerships with private companies, linking clubs to ministries and radically changing the professional law.
He stated that Iraq supports the clubs with two million dollars to form their teams, and the club administrations in Syria hoped to allocate the teams before the start of the season with 500 million pounds to be paid from the proceeds of the club’s investments.
Martini added that the club’s financial deficit to cover participation in various games amounts to five billion Syrian pounds because the cost and expenses exceed ten million Syrian pounds, while the income does not exceed five billion.
The sanctions are accompanied by a wave of ridicule on social media, and activists and those interested in sports affairs are circulating incidents in European stadiums, attaching them to publications and comments that the head of the Syrian Football Association, Salah al-Din Ramadan, imposed financial fines on players in the Spanish and English leagues and others.
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