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Syria’s former skipper banned for life for assaulting and spitting on referee




Syria’s former international soccer captain Ahmed Al-Saleh has been banned from the sport for life after assaulting and spitting on a referee while being sent off during a top-flight domestic league match, the Syrian Football Association has said.

The 33-year-old Al-Jaish defender was given a red card for a clumsy foul on an Al-Wathba player in a Syrian Pro League clash last month, before lashing out at the official with kicks and being restrained by players from both sides.

Television pictures show the player kicking a pitch-side chair over as he angrily left the game.

After reviewing the referee’s report of the Feb. 3 match, the Syrian FA’s Disciplinary Committee found that “Al-Saleh kicked, insulted and directly spat on the referee,” the SFA said in a statement.

Al-Saleh continued insulting the referee in the dressing room after the match the statement said.


The Disciplinary Committee banned Al-Saleh for life and has proposed his dismissal from Syria’s Sports Federation Organisation, meaning he would be able to play no part in any sports activities in the future, including coaching.

In addition to the ban, Al-Saleh was fined 1.5 million Syrian pounds ($597) and his Al-Jaish club fined 3 million pounds for their fans’ repeated insults to the referee.

All penalties are final and not subject to appeals the Syrian FA said.

Al-Wathba beat Al-Jaish 1-0 in the top-of-the-table clash and lead the Syrian top flight by a single point over three clubs, including Al-Jaish, at the halfway point of the season.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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