Whether you blame it on Sweden’s laughable and fragile legal system, or the idiocy of some punks, what happened last Sunday in Södertälje, Sweden is beyond appalling and outrageous.
For simply being Assyrian and playing for Assyriska, 18 years old Gabriel Awrohum was attacked by 4 Syrianska fans, when he was at a bar and refused their orders to strip of his Assyriska jersey. Being Assyrian and playing for Assyriska is like the ultimate role model for some Assyrian youth, but to these punks, it was a matter of hate, jealousy, hooliganism and pure idiocy.
Assyriska and Syrianska both play in the second highest Swedish league, the Superettan (one tier below the super league, ‘Allsvenskan’), and throughout the years, a lot of rival animosity has been brewing between the two teams and their respective fans. It has become much more than a soccer rivalry. It has spilled into other aspects of life including politics and religion, which is ironic because history and religion is what divides these two communities (Soryuyo and Oromoyo.) About a month ago, when Assyriska beat Syrianska, one of Assyriska’s community buildings was set on fire, and although no one has officially been charged, all fingers point to zealous and envious Syrianska fans.
Enough is enough! We and they got to put a stop to this, before it becomes something of a much larger scale, at which point Swedish authorities will be powerless to stop. Here is what needs to happen:
-Religion and Sports: First and foremost, the Aramaic religious establishment needs to stop getting itself involved in this sports rivalry. Isn’t it enough that they already get involved in political matters, now want to poison the soccer pitch with their hate pitch? Let us make peace not hate and divisions. It is one thing to bless a team ( which the Pope of the Vatican has done before) and quiet another when you get involved to the point of almost turning into ‘religious hooliganism’
–Syrianska team officials have to condemn the stupid and criminal activities of their fans. Staying quiet is sending the wrong signal. This is supposed to be a civilized team playing in a civilized country. Why should team management allow bunch of crazy fans to tarnish its image? Sure it can’t be responsible for the action of every one of its fans, but coming out and condemning the criminal activities of its fans would set the record straight.
–Swedish Football Federation: what about these guys? In most major soccer federations, penalties, sometimes severe ones, are often levied against teams with misbehaving fans. It seems like the SFF is not assertive nor decisive enough and this can only give the green light to these fans to continue doing what they are doing.
–Officials at the city of Södertälje: the city of Södertälje is sitting on a an Assyrian goldmine. It is the ultimate dream destination for thousands of Assyrian soccer fans from all over the world, to watch Assyriska play. This means lots of tourist money for the local economy of a relatively small city. But fans will be discouraged and think twice about coming, after hearing of all these negative things. In cooperation with the police, the city should take a tougher stand against all the Syrianska mad men, arsonists and gangsters. They are risking losing control of their city and its global image, if it had any to begin with.
-Assyrians Everywhere: we too should strongly condemn this, and show our full support for Assyriska, its players, and specifically Gabriel Awrohum, the player who was attacked. Let us ensure every Assyriska home match is a sell-out. Let us buy their merchandise, online broadcasts, and anything that will show them our support.
Assyriska to Assyrians has become more than a soccer team. It is a whole cultural and global brand that thousands of Assyrians are in love with. So it is no wonder that when Assyriska suffers a loss, its fans get attacked by opposing fans, or in the case of the latest Syrianska fans stupidity of attacking an Assyriska player, the entire Assyrian nation should be up in arms. If politics and churches can’t unite us, why not let a soccer team do it?
Syrianska fans have showed us just how uncivilized they can be. Assyriska fans can respond with just as much violence and revenge, but that is not the route we will or should take, simply because we are better! We are not the ‘cradle of civilizations’ by coincidence. In the long term, Syrianska could see itself relegated to lower divisions while Assyriska makes it back to the Allsvenskan (super Swedish league), where the Assyriamn flag could be waving high and proud in other European cities.
Assyriska chooses to play soccer and with pride and class. Syrianska are choosing to play with fire and in a rather low class. And no, I won’t differentiate between the fans and the team itself, until the latter acknowledges the problem and publicly calls out the irresponsible acts of its fans.