Thursday, March 1, 2012

The curious case of Wiyam Amashe

Football has often been regarded as an escape route by some. A way for people to forget about their daily troubles. For 90 minutes, at least, while watching or playing the game we drift into a zone where our minds are taken off whatever problems we seem to have in our own lives. It’s like a drug. You take it, you feel better, you keep wanting some more of it to stay in that zone. Football becomes our comfort zone. In societies all around the world there are several factors that unfortunately divide us at times and that's when Football comes in and saves us. Religion, wars, social classes and most of all, politics have always caused trouble in societies - factors that should never be mixed or involved with Football. However, sometimes it’s inevitable…like in the case of Wiyam Amashe.

Wiyam Amashe is the only player in world Football who has no nationality and here’s why. Amashe is a striker playing for Israeli club Maccabi Haifa. He hails from a Druze family that originates from the Buqata village in the much disputed Golan Heights. Without getting implicated into the political aspect of it (as I’m nowhere near qualified or knowledgeable enough for that), it’s quite known that this Druze community of the Golan Heights and Israel aren’t the best of friends. So much so, that when the region’s leaders were given the option of taking up Israeli citizenship, despite considering it initially, they went on a 5-month general strike and then refused it - leaving many people, like Amashe in a territory of no man’s land. Literally.

Amashe is not a citizen of any country, despite representing Israel on a junior level where the rules are less strict, and he does not hold a passport. He does hold an Israeli travel document which allows him to travel and play for Maccabi Haifa when they have European matches, but that’s about as far as it goes. FIFA have given him the green light and a special dispensation to play for Israel, but he’s refused it. He also refused the call to receive Israeli citizenship, despite it being granted to him.

He said “I might play in the national team for a year or two, but then, I will suffer for the rest of my life. My family and I will be excommunicated from the Druze community, no one will want to marry my relations and my children will suffer as well”. You would think that Amashe could find an eventual solution to playing international Football and that chance came along when the Syrian FA did offer him the opportunity to play for them, but it would mean that he’d have to leave the Golan Heights, an offer which he flatly refused as well.

Amashe’s story is a reminder of how politics and Football are unfortunately intertwined at times. It’s a very difficult one to solve and one that involves so many different factors that have nothing to do with Football. Being in his position means Amashe is doing the only thing he can do, which is simply staying put and strangely calling a halt on an international career that never existed.



  1. Nice article. you can make a movie out of that :)

  2. And then they talk to me about "equal opportunities." The dilemma kind of reminds me of what I wrote today in my blog (in a weird way, I admit) but it's about the paradox of choice: too many choices and you're lost... no choices and... well... good luck Wiyam for figuring it out...

    1. I was just talking about your latest post to "Yup,this is it" because we had lunch together. The paradox of choice leaves you lost about not knowing what to do when all these choices are in front of you.

      The thing that holds most of us back is emotional attachment to things & people. Letting go of everyone and everything is the only means to have the courage to do something sometimes.

  3. Do not be afraid; our fate
    Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.