KURDWATCH, September 25, 2015—On September 18, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) claimed on its website that former soccer coach ʿUsama ʿAbdulmuhsin is a member of the Islamist Jabhat an‑Nusrah. ʿAbdulmuhsin became publicly known after he was kicked and tripped by a Hungarian journalist as he tried to flee across the Hungarian‑Serbian border. The PYD also claims that from 2004 until 2010, ʿAbdulmuhsin was the coach of the al‑Futuwwa soccer team from Dayr az-Zaur and that as such, he was present at his team’s soccer game at al-Qamishli stadium on March 12, 2004. At this game, political differences between the fans of al‑Futuwwa and the fans of the al-Jihad team from al-Qamishli resulted in violent conflicts, which led to days of unrest. According to the PYD, ʿAbdulmuhsin incited violence at the stadium. Research done by KurdWatch suggests that these claims do not reflect the facts. Usama ʿAbdulmuhsin never coached al‑Futuwwa’s first-division team. The coach at that time was Ibrahim Yasin. Yasin resigned as coach after the events of 2004; he was followed by Hisham Khalaf, who was in turn replaced by Anwar ʿAbdulqadir in 2010. Usama ʿAbdulmuhsin only coached al‑Futuwwa’s youth team. Moreover, several eyewitnesses have told KurdWatch that the then president of al‑Futuwwa, Immad ʿAtala, was in the stadium and attempted to calm fans. According to another eyewitness who was a sports reporter at the stadium in 2004, neither the players nor the coach of al‑Futuwwa were involved in the conflicts. They were far more concerned with preventing conflict so that they could play the game.
The PYD’s claim that people were killed inside the stadium is also false. KurdWatch’s report on the events of 2004 [download report] indicates that all of the deaths occurred outside of the stadium. A total of thirty-two victims of the days of conflict with Syrian security forces have been named—not, as the PYD claims, more than fifty.