header image
Home arrow Events & Comment arrow Sports arrow Assyriska Soccer
Assyriska Soccer PDF Print E-mail

Södertälje is a Swedish town about 30 km south of Stockholm. Some decades ago Aramaic speaking Christian immigrants from the region of Tur Abdin in SE Turkey, found a new home in the Södertälje area. This Assyrian or Suroyo community nowadays numbers at least twenty thousand souls and thus the area got its popular nickname Syriantälje. Södertälje is also the home base of the Assyrian soccer team Assyriska FF.      

FC Assyriska football ground at Södertälje

In 2004 the Södertälje football club Assyriska was promoted to the Swedish Premier League. Most of the players didn’t have Assyrian roots, but still the Assyrians of Södertälje considered it their own great victory and they had their moment of glory. The Swedish sports media extensively commented on the promotion of the club and the investigative journalist Nuri Kino, a Swedish Assyrian born in Tur Abdin, made a five-parts documentary film about the team.

Nuri Kino's documentary film Assyriska – a national team without a nation was broadcasted on Swedish national television  While showing the soccer qualities of the team, it also focused on the original homeland of the Södertälje immigrants. This resulted in great in-depth coverage, Södertälje soccer combined with Assyrian human interest. In 2006 Nuri Kino’s documentary got the Golden Palm Award at the Beverly Hills Film Festival.
After 2004 things got worse for Assyriska. The club fell back to a lower division in the Swedish soccer competition and nowadays the team is struggling hard to avoid further degradation. The future may look grim for the Assyriska footballers, but they keep playing in their modern stadium, where the glory of the great days is still visible for those who want to see it.     

The Assyriska training field is shared by two teams: Assyriska and Syrianska FC. The two names are written on two separate boards at the edge of the training field. Highly symbolic this living apart together, with Asssyriska or Assyrian versus Syrianska or Syrian-Suroyo. The age-old religious and ethnic disputes that split up the minorities of Aramaic speaking Christians in SE Turkey and other regions in the Middle East are reflected in the two names.

Names that divide them in the name of Assyrian nationalism or Syrian-Orthodox belief. And yet, they all support the Assyriska soccer team when it plays well and they all watch Suroyo TV, their own Södertälje based satellite channel. They are good folk, experts in survival under northern skies far away from their lost Assyrian homeland.

                                                                                                                  Text & illustration - A Thiry