From Syria to Spain thanks to soccer

Refugee tripped by a Hungarian TV camerawoman arrives in Madrid with two of his sons

Video: Son Osama Abdul Mohsen arrives in Madrid with his sons.Photo: atlas
Diego Fonseca Rodríguez

Son Osama Abdul Mohsen, a Syrian refugee who made the headlines on September 8 when he was tripped up by a Hungarian TV camera operator, arrived at Madrid’s Atocha train station on Wednesday night with two of his sons.

It was the end of a long journey whose happy ending was made possible by Miguel Ángel Galán, head of Spain’s National Soccer Coach Training Center (Cenafe), who decided to help after finding out that Mohsen had been a coach at a first-division team in his home country.

A Cenafe student traveled to Munich, where the family was camping out, to help them with the trip to Spain.

We’ll do whatever we can. For now, we have used money from our advertising budget to pay for an apartment in Getafe where they can stay”

Miguel Ángel Galán, head of Cenafe

Mohsen was greeted upon arrival by Galán and by Sara Hernández, the mayor of Getafe, where the training center is located. The family will stay at a rental apartment paid for by Cenafe.

Mohsen had fled Syria with seven-year-old Zaid after being tortured by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and watching the Islamic State advance toward his village.

“I escaped Syria because of the war: Bashar al-Assad’s troops were beating us and the Islamic State was a threat,” he confirmed.

In the southern German city he was reunited with his 18-year-old son, Mohammed Al Ghadabe, who had left Syria earlier.

Mohammed Labrouzi, the Cenafe student who was sent to help the family, explained how the trip was organized.

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“They speak Arabic like me and a smattering of English. They rested for most of the trip, because we left Munich at 6.15am,” said the 23-year-old trainee.

Labrouzi first contacted them on Monday at noon. “They told me they wanted to come, and I did everything in my power to achieve that.”

Meanwhile, Mohsen’s wife and two other children are back in Mersin, a Turkish city on the Mediterranean near the Syrian border.

“They’ve been there for two weeks, but I hope that soon they will be able to join us. [Cenafe chief] Miguel Ángel has told me that we will all be together again. We are happy, but worried about my wife and children, because I don’t want them to remain there,” said Mohsen.

Next week, Cenafe will try to bring the rest of his family to Spain, and as soon as Mohsen learns Spanish, it will consider offering him a job.

“We’ll do whatever we can. For now, we have used money from our advertising budget to pay for an apartment in Getafe where they can stay,” says Galán.

English version by Susana Urra.

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