Watching the World Cup in Syria

We teamed up with @AleppoAMC to tell the stories of what it’s like for Syrians watching the World Cup while the host Russia bombs Syria. We learnt one thing: that the love of sport, like life, keeps on going.

Here are the stories we found.

We met some of the world’s bravest players: a group of men who lost their limbs to airstrikes. For this amputee team, every kick of the ball is an act of bold and beautiful defiance.

In Syria, football stars are under fire: since 2011 the Syrian regime have targeted sport stars and the national team. Youssef Rabea Al Hasan, a former national star, tells his story.

We took the World Cup mascots to Bab El Salame camp for internally displaced people, where along with hundreds of millions around the world we watched the Brasil vs Mexico game.

Alaa, the “cat man of Aleppo” has saved hundreds of cats. He introduced us to Thalob, a death-defying ball of cuteness who survived chemical attacks to become the predictor of the World Cup winners.

Art, like sport, is the life-force that keeps us moving forward. We met Aziz, an artist who transformed a school football yard, destroyed by Russian bombing, into a message to the world.

We took the World Cup mascots on a tour of Azaz: shisha, sweets and smiles. And a glimpse into the ordinary life of millions of Syrians too rarely shown.

And finally, the incredibly talented Hassan and Yaman, the filmmakers behind the camera of this series of videos, spoke about their dream for journalism in Syria and why they decided to bring the joy of the World Cup to northern Syria.

Supporting Syria’s heroes in their struggle for freedom and democracy