Homs hosts first soccer match in 3 years


June 24, 2014

Soccer HOMS V. GOLAN: The Khalid Ibn Waleed Homs Stadium in Homs city embraced soccer for the first time in three years on Monday in a match between the Homs-based Karama Club and the visiting Golan Club.

It was the first official game to be played in the stadium since mid-2011, when it was closed due to protests in Homs, still known among the opposition as the “capital of the revolution.”

“This is the first match played in the stadium since the regime closed it to prevent people from gathering inside and sparking a demonstration against [President Bashar] Assad,” Maher, a native resident of Homs who lives near the stadium, told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

“The regime targeted the stadium and the surrounding houses with mortar during the siege,” Maher added. “Most of the neighborhoods around the stadium are still pro-opposition.”

The stadium was filled with “an atmosphere of enthusiastic fans,” state news agency SANA reported on Monday.

Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, was one of the first to join the uprising. Rebels led by the Free Syrian Army eventually captured and held 13 districts in Old Homs, which was encircled by regime forces and bombarded for nearly two years until last month, when rebels surrendered.

“This match confirms to everyone that Homs is recovering and returning to its previous level to play its role in different fields, whether sports, or music, or culture,” the mayor of Homs, Talal Barzani, told SANA.

-June 24, 2014

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