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Assyria 3 - 1 Babylon

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    Posted: 18-Apr-2005 at 16:50
An Assyrian club has used the dash and skill of warrior ancestors to battle into the nation's premiership and tackle racism, reports Alex Duval Smith in Sdertlje.

It has been 2,600 years since the world lived in fear of the mighty kings of Assyria. But that does not stop Melek Bisso from proclaiming the empire's return as he stands by a rain-sodden football pitch south of Stockholm.

Thirty years ago Assyriska FF were a bunch of refugees who played football between shifts at the Scania truck plant. Now they are in the premiership - which is played in a summer season that has just begun - and their host town, Sdertlje, has grudgingly conceded that its footballing pride is in the hands of 'the immigrants' team'.
Sdertlje's Social Democrat mayor, Anders Lago, who claims the local council has done as much as it can for the team, believes Assyriska have 'a good chance' of avoiding relegation, principally because rival teams may underestimate them.
That is a mistake that the Assyrians themselves have been taught by history that they must never do. In about 700BC, their King Esarhaddon conquered Syria, Palestine and Egypt. With the spoils of his campaigns, he expanded his capital, Nineveh, near the present Iraqi city of Mosul, and built himself a fabulously expensive palace.
Then, however, Babylon and Syria revolted and Egypt declared its independence - teaching Assyrians a lesson not lost on today's footballers of Assyriska. (From The Obsever 17/04/05)
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