Tuesday 14 January 2020, 16:26

Syria welcomes first FIFA mission in seven years

  • Syrian Premier League gathers 14 teams on a home and away basis, with match attendances sometimes reaching 30,000 fans

  • FIFA mission recently visited the country for the first time since 2012 to assess the situation and observe the SFA Elective Congress in December 2019

  • In the past few years, FIFA has assisted the country’s national teams with accommodation and flights via its tailor-made FIFA Forward development Programme

In spite of considerable challenges in recent years, football development in Syria has continued ever since the military conflict broke out in 2011. It was considerably difficult for the country's football community to maintain the game, but the Syrian Football Association (SFA) has been undertaking tremendous efforts to ensure the beautiful game continues to thrive knowing that for many Syrians, football represented the only joy and consolation during these difficult times.

As the armed conflict’s impact has now been reduced, football in Syria found its way back. Currently, there is a solid three-tier nationwide system in men's football with 14 clubs participating in the Premier League whose matches are hosted in five cities, namely; Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo, Hama and Homs. Attendances can be as high as 30,000 spectators for local derbies.

There are also 26 clubs in the second division divided into two geographical zones of 13 each and a third division of 40 teams across four zones. This structure is supported by district competitions which are active not only in major cities but also in far-flung regions. Overall, 7550 male players are registered with the Syrian Football Association (SFA).

The Syrian men's national team have also managed to maintain a relatively high standard of results during the turbulent years. To support them, FIFA has been assisting the Syrian national teams participation in international competitions with accommodation and flights via the FIFA Forward Development Programme. In addition, the Syrian member association has also been undertaking a lot of development activities for women’s football in the country.

As FIFA is constantly looking at ways to support its members, a FIFA mission to Syria was organised in order to assess the current football situation in the nation for the first time since 2012. Project Coordinators from the FIFA Regional Development Office in Dubai, Hasan Hassan and Andrei Vashkevich visited the SFA headquarters in Damascus from 26-29 December 2019. During their stay, the FIFA delegation was taken on a tour to several facilities of the Syrian capital and had the opportunity to serve as official FIFA observers at the SFA Elective Congress.

At the conclusion of the elections, Hatem Al Gaeb, a former Al-Shorta (Syrian sports club) and national team player, became the new president of the SFA.