Many Syrian athletes have long been at the heart of the Syrian revolution participating in public demonstrations against the bloody internal battle that has caused hundreds of thousands to flee across the country’s borders.
But this week the Athlete’s chose to restructure their movement in a bid to distance themselves from the current regime whose security forces have been accused by the UN of deliberately targeting civilians and violating international humanitarian law.
A former handball player said: ‘‘Anyone living inside Syria is forced to move according to the regimes will. As a player when I am participating in matches outside Syria my family is vulnerable, trapped and if I try to defect they would be killed.’‘
The newly formed Free Syrian Athlete’s Union announced in Doha this week their aims to be the sole legitimate representative of Syrian sport taking a major step towards gaining regional and international recognition.
This Union Member said: ‘‘We want to gain recognition from Arab countries. To raise the issue with ministers of Youth and Sports of being a real alternative to the current organisation – this is to avoid the vacuum expected to occur after the collapse of the regime.’‘
Whether or not the Union for Free Syrian athletes gains International and Arab recognition – it does highlight once again the people’s strong desire for change.