Germany face Spain with the prospect of an early exit from the World Cup

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: World’s top 15 tennis player Beatriz Haddad Maia exited the US Open on September 4 after she and Kazakh partner Anna Danilina were beaten by the duo of Nicole Melichar Martinez and Elaine Perez.

However, Brazilians have developed a growing fondness for Maya and many hope she will become the best female tennis player in the country’s history.

Part of his success stems from his formative years at Esporte Clube Sirio, a leading sports and social club in São Paulo, Brazil’s main financial center.

Founded in 1917, the club is one of the great examples of the contribution of the Arab community to sports in Latin America.

Esporte Clube Sirio, a sports club with close ties to the Arab community in São Paulo, helped develop the skills of tennis star Beatriz Haddad Maya. (AFP)

His first complex included four tennis courts, a basketball court, a soccer field and a lake.

Membership has grown rapidly over the years among Syrian and Lebanese immigrants – such as the Haddad family – who make up a large community in São Paulo, and the club has grown richer. Soon, non-Arab Brazilians began to join as well.

By 1949, Sirio had gained a reputation as one of the best sports clubs in São Paulo and moved to its current location, in the southern part of the city, building a modern complex from scratch.

“I joined Syria as a kid in 1955. I saw most of its construction,” Washington Joseph, 72, better known as Dodi, told Arab News. “My brother and I started playing football, then gymnastics and judo. When I was 11 years old, I started playing basketball.

Between 1967 and 1982, Dodi, the grandson of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants, was one of Brazil’s greatest basketball players and was part of the legendary team that won the 1979 World Cup.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, Serio was one of the leading Brazilian basketball teams. Several of his players were regularly invited to the national team, which at that time was one of the best in the world.

In 2014, the Palestinians decided to include a full map of Palestine (pre-partition) on their jersey, replacing the number one. (Delivered)

“We had dominance for about 30 years. “We have won many national championships, as well as the South American championship six times,” said Dodi.

Another Arab club, Monte Libano from São Paulo, had a very competitive basketball team.

Sirio participated in the Intercontinental Cup six times and Dodi was part of the team in all but the 1984 and 1979 editions.”

That year, Brazil hosted the cup. The games drew thousands of basketball fans to the stadium and were broadcast across the country.

Sirio reached the final against the Yugoslav club Bosnia. Brazil’s stunning 100-98 victory has not been forgotten.

“Our generation has greatly contributed to the promotion of basketball in Brazil,” said Dodi. Serio continued to be one of the top basketball clubs until 1995, when the sport became heavily professionalized in Brazil and its leaders decided that the level of investment required for the game could no longer be sustained.

Close-up of a T-shirt with a map of Palestine. (Delivered)

But Serio did not stop being a school for new athletes. It has had great champions like weightlifter Tamer Haim – who competed at the Summer Olympics in Munich – and tennis player William Kyriakos.

“We also had great judo, handball and volleyball teams. “We still have authority in this sport,” Dodi said, adding that Cerio’s frequent rival is Deportivo Palestino from Santiago, Chile.

Carlos Medina Lahcen, a Chilean of Palestinian descent and an expert on Palestinian history, told Arab News: “Especially in the 1950s, matches between the two clubs were highly anticipated.

Palestino was founded in 1920 as a football club. Medina Lahcen said that because of British influence, Palestinians were already playing football in the Middle East before they migrated to Latin America.

He added that “communities of foreigners started playing sports in search of integration into Chilean society, but discrimination at the time was very severe.”

In 1923, the club abandoned football and gave preference to tennis. Ali Palestino and another Arab club united in the 1940s and continued football after Palestine was partitioned in 1947.

The Syrio basketball team that won the Intercontinental Cup in 1979 (attached)

During the 1950s, the team received large investments from Palestinian businessmen and became known as “The Millionaires”. In 1955, he won the national football championship.

With the second intifada against the Israeli occupation (2000-2005), the interest of many Chilean Palestinians in El Steno grew and the club saw an increase in the number of new fans.

In 2008, Palestino reached the finals of the national championship against Colo-Cola. Although the Palestinian was defeated, he attracted the attention of the Philistines.

In the age of the Internet, they were surprised by the news about a football club that bears the name of their country. “We heard that people rented cinemas and broadcast the game in the Gaza Strip,” Medina Lahsan said.

Since then, the relationship between the club and Palestine has grown exponentially. Chilean players traveled to Palestine several times, even the main team played matches there. Bank of Palestine became a frequent sponsor.

In 2014, the Palestinians decided to include a full map of Palestine (pre-partition) on their jersey, replacing the number one.

This sparked controversy in Chile, with members of the Jewish community accusing the club of erasing Israel from the map and many pressuring the national football federation to intervene.

Sports authorities did not consider the symbol to be of a political nature and fined it only because the card exceeds the maximum area of ​​the jersey that can display printed content.

“The club used this shirt all season. “It is by far the most popular shirt in Palestinian history,” said Medina Lahcen.

The documentary “4 Colors”, which tells the story of the club, shows how football strengthened the ties between Chileans and Palestinians.

“Many Palestinian fans are not directly part of the Arab community in Chile, but are nonetheless affected by the plight of Palestinians around the world,” said Medina Lahcen, the film’s research director.

He found that across Latin America there are sports clubs with a Palestinian or Arabic name in their name, such as Central Palestina in Uruguay and Palestino Football Club in Honduras. There are dozens of clubs in Argentina and Chile that bear the name Sirio or Sirio Libanes.

One of the best soccer clubs in Panama is Deportivo Arabe Unido from the city of Colón.

Serio’s memorable and decisive match was against Bosnia, who won the tournament. (Delivered)

Although the Arab community in Kowloon is not large – numbering about 120 families – it has played an important role in local sports.

The DAU was founded by Panamanian Arabs in the 1990s, when there was no professional soccer league in the country. “We never thought it would grow this much,” club president Mohamed Hashem told Arab News.

Since its foundation, the club has been one of the most successful clubs in the Panamanian Premier League, with several national championships. Most of his fans now are not members of the Arab community.

“We had several players with Arab roots, and the Arab community is very supportive,” Hashem said.

The club is building its new headquarters and sports center, including the social part.

One of Hashem’s plans for the future is to promote a tournament among Arab football clubs in Latin America. “It would be nice to bring them all together,” he said.

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