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Middle east

FC Barcelona, an anti-Assad agent?

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2012-03-23

Syrian state TV channel Al Dunya has accused Qatar, FC Barcelona’s main sponsor, of using matches played by the Champions League title holders to spread coded messages to Syrian insurgents.

Barca vs. Bashar. That’s according to Syrian state channel Al Dunya, which claimed this week that one of the world’s best football clubs, FC Barcelona, is spreading coded messages to anti-Assad dissenters in Syria. An Al Dunya report posted on YouTube details how Barca stars such as Lionel Messi are being employed to guide insurgents in fighting Syria’s brutal crackdown on protesters.

The report, posted online last week, has already been viewed more than 600,000 times. In a vaguely derisory tone, it claims to prove that the team’s tactics are a clever way of showing insurgents how to smuggle illegal arms into the country.

Without actually mentioning the name of the club, the Al Dunya reporter paints an outlandish metaphor, with Barcelona players representing smugglers, their position on the field Syrian cities, and the ball - a stash of weapons.

THE AL DUNYA REPORT

The report becomes increasingly surreal as a transparent map of Syria is placed over footage of a quarter-final King’s Cup match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, turning Lionel Messi into a smuggler helping to transport a stash of weapons from across the border in Lebanon to a group of dangerous insurgents within the country.

Paranoid?

Al Dunya isn’t really accusing FC Barcelona of directly supporting the Syrian uprising.

Their real target is Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera, which Syrian authorities accuse of repeatedly broadcasting Barcelona goals as a way of bolstering anti-Assad protesters.

The Syrian government says it suspects Doha of financing anti-regime insurgents, in the same way it did during the Libyan uprising last year: for the wealthy Gulf state, FC Barcelona would supposedly serve as a handy tool, as the Qatar Foundation is the team’s biggest sponsor.

'CODED WEATHER FORECASTS'

It’s not the first time Syria has produced such a seemingly paranoia-fueled conjecture.

Al Dunya has accused Saudi channel Al Arabia of sending coded messages to insurgents via weather forecasts, FRANCE 24 has been accused of fabricating eyewitness accounts from anti-regime protesters, and BBC Arabic has also found itself under fire for similar misdemeanors since the uprising began over a year ago.

Date created : 2012-03-22

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