Posts tagged ‘soccer’

Assyriska FC vs. Assyrian Church of the East

You could argue that the ‘Assyrian Church of the East’, and although not as a corporation, is the richest Assyrian entity in the world.  It has millions of dollars flowing in its coffers every year, Sunday after Sunday.  Assyrian Aid Society and other political movements such as Zowaa, through the contributions of their members, could come second.But what about ‘Assyriska’? Could it rival the Assyrian Church in being the richest Assyrian entity out there in terms of revenue from its followers and fans? It very much could be!  With it being the only and most recognized international Assyrian team, they could be sitting on a goldmine.   Realizing that and actually leveraging it is a whole different story.

With TV rights, ticket sales, merchandise and more, Assyriska could very well be the richest Assyrian corporation out there (profit or non- for profit.) So many Assyrians are dying to get their hands on one of their jerseys, caps and other apparels.  Assyrians from all over the world, whether they belong to the Assyrian church of the East, or any other church, are in love with this team.  So while not suggesting their followers could outnumber those of the ACOE, but for the purpose of statistics and analysis, it is just interesting to make note of these comparatives between the two.

Assyriska though, compared to the Assyrian Church of the East, is less organized and exploitive of making money from its followers.  And we don’t mean to suggest that any of the two entities are or should be extracting money illegally or unethically from their members.  But if you have a following as big as these two do, and if revenues are needed to keep your operations going, then why not?

I bet some of you are still wondering why I would even write such an article and make this absurd comparison? This is more than just a comparison.  It is also a contrast between the two.  By comparing and contrasting the two entities and how they are operated, we may be able to learn a thing or two about how to run a business a little more efficiently.  Sure the church is not a business, but since money is involved, it is similar to a business; although not in terms of profits.  Assyriska could and should learn a thing or two from the ACOE.  And while we wish both of them to get as much money as they can to keep their operations going, Assyriska is the one that should put a better effort in doing this.  They are sitting on a goldmine. They are our Real Madrid.  Not sure if they realize this, as much as the ACOE realizes it is our own Vatican.

We have narrowed it down to the question: Vatican vs. Real Madrid, who has more following and who generates more money?

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Ammo Baba Dies and Assyriska Loses to Syrianska: Worst Week for Assyrian Soccer?

As if losing Ammo Baba wasn’t sad and bad enough,  Assyrians lost another battle this past week: The epic battle in the Swedish Superettan for the Assyrian-Aramean bragging rights.  Syrianska beat Assyriska 1-0, and with it crushed the hopes of thousands of Assyriska fans in Sweden and around the world.

This wasn’t just a soccer match. It was far from it.   In fact, you can almost argue that it was more about politics than it was about sports and soccer.  Some dubbed it ‘Derby D’ Suryoye’ , as important of an encounter as those of ‘Real vs. Barcelona’ ,  ‘Milan vs. Inter’ , ‘Manchester vs. Chlesea’  if not more!

Given the tensions between the ‘Assyrian’ and ‘Aramaic’ communities in Sweden and Europe overall, and the latter’s refusal to aknoweledge Assyrians as the real decendants of the ancient Assyrian Aramaic speaking people, these are never just mere soccer matches.

At the end of the day, Syrianska came out victorious, by a score of  1-0, but it is good consolation to know that, because twenty years ago, this ‘Ashur vs. Aram’ battle almost claimed the life of many supporters from both sides.  Yes, that is how bad it can be.  There was violence and chaos this year too, with some reports of Syrianska fans having stolen several hundred Assyriska t-shirts, stripping Assyriska supporters of their ability to wear them to support their team.

Having lost the Assyrian legend Ammo Baba, followed by Assyriska’s loss to Syrianska in Superettan, could this week have been the worst week in Assyrian soccer history ever?  Not certain if anyone keeps a record of such a title, but it can easily qualify for it.

Here are some pictures from both fans sides

For more on this historical match and what people had to say, click here to visit our ‘Assyriska Fans Page’ on Assyrian Voice.

We can end this on a good note by letting you know that Assyriska is still on top of Syrianska on the Superettan league standing.  As of June 1st, they both have the same points, although Assyriska has the advantage in other differentials and wins/losses difference.

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An Iraqi Assyrian Soccer Legend has Passed Away: Ammo Baba (1934-2009)

He was regarded as the best coach in the history of Iraqi soccer. More than that, he is credited with taking Iraqi soccer to the next level, and bringing many cups and titles to the country. He is Ammo Baba (officially Emmanuel Baba Dawud) and with heavy hearts we received the news of his death, at the age of 75, after a long battle with illness.

Ammo Baba, who began his career as a player and later as a coach, is one of the most recognized faces, not only for the Assyrian or Iraqi people, but the entire Arab world.  His presence behind the Iraqi team bench was enough to put fear in the hearts of the opponents, which no wonder helped the Iraqi national team win many Arab, Asian and international titles under his coaching.    In fact, his name was so big and respected in Iraq, even the notorious Uday, the son of Saddaam Hussien, would listen to him and obey his final instructions regarding team formations and planning.   Now that is pretty special for a Christian, let alone an Assyrian Christian!

All of which explains why this is such a big loss for the Assyrian, Iraqi and the footballing world in general. He is, with no dispute, the best Iraqi coach in the 20th century, and his record speaks for itself.  As an Assyrian, he has been one of the most popular and recognized personalities in the last 50 years,  if not more popular than such recognized names as Mar Dinkha, Evin Agassi, Agha Petros, Younadam Kanna and others. To be put in the same category as these names says a lot about Ammo Baba.

To read more about this legend and his career, visit one of the following websites:

Preparations are already under way by the Iraqi government to stage a big and national funeral for him, at the famous ‘People’s Stadium’ in Baghdad, a place where Ammo Baba coached thousands of games and players, for close to 4 decades.

As Assyrians, and despite this being a sad moment and great loss, we should still use Ammo’s death to remind Iraqis and others in the region about what Assyrians have given to their country of Iraq. And what better example to demonstrate this loyalty than the great legend? He gave Iraq everything he can, and did everything in his power to keep Iraqi soccer on top of the Arab and Asian world.  Despite being of a very old generation, his ideas were still quiet applicable to today’s fast-paced and athletic soccer.

It is my hope that Iraqis and the Iraqi government in particular recognizes his Assyrian identity, and on the least, put an Assyrian flag on his coffin, beside an Iraqi flag of course.  That wouldn’t be much to ask for.  Realizing that the news of his death and coverage of his funeral will be all over the region, putting an Assyrian flag would send a very powerful message.  A message of appreciation and recognition.

May your soul rest in peace.  With every ball kicked in any Iraqi soccer field, you will be remembered.  That is how great your impact has been.

You truly are ‘the father of all coaches’

You have worked hard enough, and now is time to rest in peace.

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What if Assyrians had their Own Soccer Team?

Having followed the entire Euro Cup 2008, I can’t help but feel some envy when seeing other nations’ flags being waved and flown all over the place. Even in North America, thousands of miles away from the action, people are very passionate about their teams and the players that represent their nations. Can’t really say the same for Assyrians, doesn’t matter what the competition is; Euro Cup, Asia Cup, World Cup, Copa America etc. Assyrians don’t have a team to begin with, so no tournament will give them any consolation.

Of course, for those living in countries that have teams representing them in these tournaments, they may feel allegiance to their host country’s team. An Assyrian living in Australia, would support the Australian team. An Assyrian living in Holland, would support the Dutch team, and so on. Obviously, there are those who have lived in Iraq for most of their lives, and they feel a natural inclination and duty to support the Iraqi national team, a team they have grown up watching and following. However, and talking to a lot of Assyrians, you just sense that something is missing. The loyalty is just not very genuine or sincere. Only an Assyrian team would get their absolute loyalty and fulfill their nationalistic desires.

No Country? No Problem!

Assyriska is our only true international professional team, and it is no wonder that it has the following of hundreds of thousands of Assyrians worldwide. But that is just a club, and not a national team. A national team can only be had if a country named Assyria exists; which it doesn’t. So, do we wait till the day we have our own country, before we can have a team to cheer for? not necessarily. I believe it is time Assyrians put their own team together, even if they are not an independent nation, and remain a part of Iraq. Just look at the Kurds, they have had their own team, that is separate from the national Iraqi team, for a few years now. This team represents the region of Kurdistan in various competitions, albeit not official ones. One such tournament is the VIVA World Cup.

VIVA Assyria at VIVA World Cup!

From July 7 to Jul 13, 5 teams will compete in the the second VIVA World Cup in Sweden, with the winner receiving the Nelson Mandela Trophy. What is interesting and significant about the participating teams, is that they are mostly from non-independent groups and nations, including Kurdistan. Wouldn’t this be the perfect place for Assyrians to start with their own team? An Assyrian team from Iraq can easily be assembled and sent to this tournament, with the help of sponsors and other groups from abroad. The mere thought of an Assyrian team playing, with hundreds of fans cheering and waving our flags, is enough to send chills down our spines. Now imagine the real thing, with our team meeting their Kurdistan counterpart in the final game and beating them. What a great source of pride would that be? Soccer after all has united nations and people in the past, and brought peace to many, so it is only natural that it does the same for us as people.

Many logistical and organizational obstacles will have to be ironed out before such a team can be assembled. Who would be the coach? would it be one of our Assyrian legends like Ammo Baba, Douglas Aziz, Ayoub Odisho, Sadi Toma? or would it be a young local coach? who would sponsor the team? where would the players be selected from? would they be from Northern Iraq where the majority of Assyrians live? or would it be a selection from Assyrians living in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon etc. To tackle such obstacles, it is important to start from a select team of local players, and expand it later. This could be a big success in the future, and organize their own international tours to cities where Assyrians reside.

The Symbolism and Magic of Soccer

Assyrians shouldn’t wait for a state before they can have their own team. FIFA may not accept us as an official member, and that is expected of course. But who cares? we are not aspiring for such big demands and recognition for now. It is all in the symbolism for now. Soccer has an amazing power, and an Assyrian team would only help our cause and make us more known to the world. Viva Assyria!

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