Al-Shorta SC

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Al-Shorta
Al-Shorta Sports Club (Iraq) Crest.png
Full name Al-Shorta Sports Club
Nickname(s) Al-Qeetharah (The Harp)
Founded 14 November 1932; 86 years ago (1932) as Montakhab Al-Shorta
Ground Al-Shaab Stadium (temporary)
Ground Capacity 35,000
Owner Ministry of Interior
President Ayad Bunyan
Manager Thair Jassam
League Iraqi Premier League
2016–17 Iraqi Premier League, 3rd
Website Club website
Current season
Active departments of Al-Shorta SC
Football pictogram.svg Basketball pictogram.svg Handball pictogram.svg
Football[1] Basketball[2] Handball[3]
Futsal pictogram.svg Volleyball (indoor) pictogram.svg Volleyball (beach) pictogram.svg
Futsal[4] Volleyball[5] Beach volleyball[6]
Archery pictogram.svg Athletics pictogram.svg Bodybuilding pictogram.svg
Archery[6] Athletics[7] Bodybuilding[6]
Boxing pictogram.svg Chess pictogram.svg Judo pictogram.svg
Boxing[6] Chess[6] Judo[6]
Equestrian pictogram.svg Swimming pictogram.svg Taekwondo pictogram.svg
Show jumping[8] Swimming[9] Taekwondo[10]
Water polo pictogram.svg Weightlifting pictogram.svg Wrestling pictogram.svg
Water polo[6] Weightlifting[11] Wrestling[6]

Al-Shorta Sports Club (Arabic: نادي الشرطة الرياضي‎, lit. 'Police Sports Club') is an Iraqi sports club based in Rusafa District, East Districts of the Tigris River, Baghdad. It has teams in more sports than any other Iraqi club including football, basketball, handball, futsal, volleyball, beach volleyball, archery, athletics, bodybuilding, boxing, chess, judo, show jumping, swimming, taekwondo, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling. The oldest and best known section of the club is the football team.

Al-Shorta were founded in 1932 under the name Montakhab Al-Shorta and are the third-oldest existing football club in the country.[12] They are regarded as one of Iraq's best teams[13][14] and they are the only existing Iraqi team to ever win any major top-tier continental club competition, having lifted the Arab Champions League trophy in 1982 and being widely considered as the winners of the AFC Champions League in 1971.[15][16] They won all the games they played en route to the final of the tournament, but refused to face Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in protest at the Israeli occupation of Palestine, instead waving the Palestinian flag around the field.[15] They are regarded as champions by the Arab media (and by the club itself) and were greeted with a heroes' reception upon their return to the country.[16] Israel were subsequently expelled from the AFC, and their clubs now compete in UEFA competitions.[17]

They have won five Iraqi Central League titles[18] and five Iraqi Premier League titles,[19] and most recently won the Premier League in both the 2012–13 and 2013–14 seasons. Al-Shorta hold numerous league records in Iraq, such as the most seasons played in the top-flight, the fewest losses in a season,[20] the longest period of time without losing a league match, the fewest goals conceded in a season, the most consecutive wins in a season, and the most consecutive games scored in. They have also won a joint record three Iraqi Elite Cups (in 2000, 2001 and 2002), being the only team to win that trophy three consecutive times.[21] Al-Shorta were the first Iraqi club in history to sign an official deal with a major kit manufacturer as Nike made their kits for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons.[22]

History[edit]

1932–1962: Foundation and early years[edit]

Montakhab Al-Shorta players lining up before a match in 1937.

Al-Shorta were founded on 14 November 1932, and are the third-oldest existing team in Iraq. They were founded under the name Montakhab Al-Shorta (Police Select XI).[12] In Montakhab Al-Shorta's early years, the squad was formed of policemen in Iraq who were chosen to represent the Iraqi police force in football tournaments. The first three tournaments that they competed in were the 1932–33, 1933–34 and 1934–35 editions of the Prince Ghazi Cup, but they failed to win any of them. Their first four recorded matches in history were a 1–1 draw with Al-Lasilki, a 1–1 draw with Al-Jadeed, a 3–2 win over Al-Ashbal and a 1–0 loss to Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, all in the 1932–33 Prince Ghazi Cup.[23]

The team's first trophy came in 1938,[24] when Montakhab Al-Shorta won the Taha Al-Hashimi Cup (named after eventual prime minister of Iraq, Taha Al-Hashimi) after defeating Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1–0 thanks to Harbi Shabaa's goal. Montakhab Al-Shorta then defeated Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya again a year later, this time it was 2–0, in the final of the Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya Cup, a tournament created by the runners-up themselves. In the same year, Montakhab Al-Shorta crushed Ittihad Al-Karkh 5–1 in the final of the Olympic Club Cup to secure their third piece of silverware in two years.[25] Montakhab Al-Shorta continued to participate in various tournaments until the Iraq Football Association founded the Iraqi Central League in 1956, a regional championship for teams in central Iraq (i.e. the capital city of Baghdad), the champions of which were considered to be the Iraqi champions. Montakhab Al-Shorta reached the final of the 1957–58 edition but finished as runners-up after withdrawing from the replay of the final against rivals Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya Al-Malikiya (now known simply as Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya) as they were missing many players with the FA refusing to move the game to another date.

1962–1982: Domestic & continental dominance[edit]

In 1960, the Police Games Committee, later known as Police Games Directorate (PGD), was founded to take control of Police-representative sports in Iraq, and thus they took control of Montakhab Al-Shorta. In 1962, they renamed the team to Madrasa Al-Shorta (Police School), and, in time for the 1961–62 season, also founded three reserve teams for the club: Aliyat Al-Shorta (Police Machinery), Kuliya Al-Shorta (Police Academy) and Shorta Al-Najda (Police Debuties).[26] At the time, reserve teams played in the same league system as the senior team, rather than in a reserve team league (similar to the system used in Spain today).

The first round-robin season that Madrasa Al-Shorta participated in was the 1962–63 season,[27] and, coached by Fahmi Al-Qaimaqchi, they won the title in that season.[28] However, after just two seasons, Madrasa Al-Shorta were relegated to the second division after finishing bottom of the league. One of their reserve teams, Aliyat Al-Shorta, won the Iraqi Central Third Division in 1962, and were promoted to the Iraqi Central League after winning the Iraqi Central Second Division in 1963 by defeating Al-Omma 2–0 in the final game.[29] Aliyat Al-Shorta thus became the senior team, and Madrasa Al-Shorta disbanded. Under the management of Mohammed Najib Kaban, the team impressed in their first season in the top-flight in 1963–64, finishing in third place, before a second-place finish in 1965. They were on course to win their first title in the 1966–67 season, but the competition was cancelled due to the Six-Day War in June 1967 with Aliyat Al-Shorta on top of the league.[23]

The next few years would bring great success to Aliyat Al-Shorta as they began to dominate Iraqi football. They became the first team to achieve the Central League title three times in a row, winning the 1967–68, 1968–69 and 1969–70 titles. They also won the Republics Cup twice in a row in 1968 and 1969,[30] after losing the 1966 final 2–1 to Maslahat Naqil Al-Rukab.[23] In this tournament, players from their reserve sides (Kuliya Al-Shorta and Shorta Al-Najda) often participated alongside players of the senior side Aliyat Al-Shorta, hence the team was often referred to as Montakhab Al-Shorta when competing in this tournament. In 1971, Aliyat Al-Shorta participated in and reached the final of what is now known as the AFC Champions League, in Bangkok. They changed their name from Aliyat Al-Shorta to Al-Shorta for this tournament, and changed it back after the tournament was over.[31] They won all the games they played en route to the final of the tournament, including two wins against the competition's defending champions Taj Tehran, but refused to face Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in protest at the Israeli occupation of Palestine, instead waving the Palestinian flag around the field.[15] They are regarded as champions by the Arab media (the Al-Mal'ab newspaper headline the following day read: "The Champions of Asia Return to Baghdad") and by the club itself, and were greeted with a heroes' reception upon their return to the country; Israel were subsequently expelled from the AFC and their clubs now compete in UEFA competitions.[16]

That season, they finished second in the Central League; they would have been champions for the fourth straight season had they defeated Al-Sikak Al-Hadeed, however in the absence of Abid Kadhim who was out injured with a broken foot, Aliyat Al-Shorta drew the game 2–2 and therefore handed the title to Maslahat Naqil Al-Rukab.[32] Aliyat Al-Shorta reclaimed their title the next season though, winning the Central League for the fifth time in the history of Montakhab Al-Shorta's teams (still under the management of Mohammed Najib Kaban). They also won the Chief of Police Cup in 1972 by beating fellow Police side Shorta Al-Najda 4–3 on penalties in the final after a 0–0 draw.[33] Two consecutive second-place finishes in the 1972–73 and 1973–74 leagues followed (they also took part in a special Baghdad League in 1973 where they finished as runners-up behind Al-Sikak Al-Hadeed after a 3–1 defeat), while none of the three Al-Shorta teams that participated in the 1973–74 Iraqi Central FA Cup managed to reach the semi-finals.[34] Meanwhile, Kuliya Al-Shorta won the Iraqi Central Second Division in the 1973–74 season, adding another trophy to the long list of Al-Shorta's honours.[24]

In 1974, the Iraq Football Association decided to replace the Iraqi Central League and the other regional leagues in Basra, Kirkuk and Mosul with the Iraqi National League, an official league for clubs from all around Iraq in what was a new beginning for Iraqi club football.[35] This also saw a new beginning for the representation of the Iraqi Police force in football. Aliyat Al-Shorta were merged with their reserve teams Kuliya Al-Shorta and Shorta Al-Najda to form Al-Shorta who became a sports club.[36] However, the players of the three teams did not stay on at the sports club. Instead, the PGD refounded the three original teams separately from the sports club to compete in unofficial tournaments such as the Armed Forces League, and the players joined these teams instead.

This was because the PGD were strongly opposed to the new league system and thus wanted to send a weak Al-Shorta team to compete in the first season in protest. The squad consisted of unknown, inexperienced, amateur players. Unsurprisingly, the team lost its first game 3–0 against Al-Muwasalat, before losing 11–0 to Al-Naqil in the following match in what is to this day the joint-largest defeat for any club in Iraqi Premier League history.[37] This resulted in an outrage among Al-Shorta supporters, and after talks between the IFA and the PGD, it was decided that all players from the side would be released. They were replaced by players who were representing Shorta Al-Najda and Kuliya Al-Shorta in the Armed Forces League (i.e. the club's reserve players in the Central League era).[23] The club managed to bounce back from the terrible start to the season and earned a respectable fifth-place finish. The following season saw the return of the players that had been playing in the Armed Forces League for Aliyat Al-Shorta (i.e. the club's senior players in the Central League era) including the likes of captain Abid Kadhim and Douglas Aziz; this hugely improved the team and saw them improve on their fifth-place finish the previous season and earn a third-place finish.[38]

Al-Shorta won their first international tournament when they won the 1976 Arab Police Championship, defeating Al-Shorta (Syria) and Al-Shorta (Sudan) on their way to winning the competition. They repeated the feat two years later, winning the Arab Police Championship for the second time by defeating Al-Shorta (Kuwait) 2–0 in the final.[39] 1978 also saw Al-Shorta reach the final of the Iraq FA Cup for the first time, but they were defeated by Al-Tayaran (later to be known as Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya) on penalties in the final. This was to be their first of five FA Cup final defeats.[21][23]

In the 1979–80 season, legendary player Douglas Aziz became the manager of the club in his first ever managerial job and led the club to their first Iraqi National League title in that season as they leapfrogged Al-Zawraa into first place on the final round of the season due to Al-Zawraa drawing 1–1 with Al-Shabab on the last day.[40] Al-Shorta thought they had won the league for the second time in a row in the 1980–81 season as they ended the campaign unbeaten with equal points and goal difference to Al-Talaba and more goals scored. However, the IFA decided to change the rules so that the number of wins would be the tiebreaker and Al-Talaba had two more wins than Al-Shorta, meaning that they were handed the title. This rule had never been used before and has never been used again, and many fans believe that there must have been a conspiracy against Al-Shorta for such a decision to be made.[41]

1982 saw one of the greatest achievements in the club's history. Led by Douglas Aziz, Al-Shorta won the first ever Arab Champions League, known as the Arab Club Champions Cup at the time. Al-Nejmeh of Lebanon defeated Al-Ahli of Jordan 2–1 to earn a two-legged tie with Al-Shorta to battle it out for the title, with Ali Hussein Mahmoud's brace winning the first leg 2–0 for Al-Shorta before the second leg ended 2–2, meaning that Al-Shorta had won 4–2 on aggregate and were crowned winners of the Arab Champions League,[42] something only one other Iraqi team has done since.[43]

1982–1997: Major honours dry up[edit]

Al-Shorta won another competition outside of Iraq in 1983 when they won the President's Gold Cup by defeating the Malaysia national team 2–0 in the final through goals from Nasir Jasem and Adnan Khatom either side of half-time.[44] That same year, the club moved into a new home as construction of the new Al-Shorta Stadium had been completed.[23] The club changed their name to Quwat Al-Emen Al-Dakhili (Internal Security Forces) for the 1983–84 season while Iraq was at war; that name only lasted for that one season before the club was renamed to Al-Shorta and the name has remained the same ever since.[12] In 1985, Al-Shorta won the Arab Police Championship for the third time, with Mohammed Khalaf's goal enough to defeat Al-Shorta (Saudi Arabia) 1–0 in the final and secure the title.[39] A year later, Al-Shorta entered the Saddam International Tournament but failed to advance past the group stages[45] before winning the Al-Nasr Al-Adheem Cup in the 1987–88 season. Al-Shorta followed this by winning the Arab Police Championship for the fourth time in 1988.[23]

Al-Shorta reached the 1992 Al-Nasr Wal-Salam Cup final, beating Salahaddin, Al-Jaish and Al-Diwaniya on the way but lost the decisive match 2–0 to Al-Najaf.[46] Al-Shorta bounced back by winning the Al-Nasr Al-Adheem Cup again in 1996 thanks to a 1–0 win over Al-Zawraa, a 2–2 draw with Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and a 3–1 win over Al-Talaba. Al-Shorta suffered a lot of heartache in the 1990s, losing the 1996 Iraq FA Cup final 2–1 to Al-Zawraa, the 1997 Iraq FA Cup final to Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya on penalties and the 1997 Iraqi Elite Cup final 4–0 to Al-Najaf.[23]

1997–1998: League won with last kick of season[edit]

After finishing the 1996–97 season in fifth place, few expected Abdelilah Abdul-Hamed’s Al-Shorta to win the league the following season, something they had not been able to do for 18 years since they triumphed in 1980. However, captained by Saad Qais, Al-Shorta did just that. Going into the final day of the league season on Friday 5 May 1998, there were three contenders for the title; all three of them were from Baghdad. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya were on top of the league with 70 points and +46 goal difference. The eventual champions Al-Shorta were in second, also with 70 points but with +40 goal difference, six less than Jawiya's total. Al-Zawraa were in third with 69 points and +48 goal difference. League leaders Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya were playing fellow title hopefuls Al-Zawraa at Al-Shaab Stadium at the same time as Al-Shorta were playing Al-Sulaikh (who ended the season in 10th position) at Al-Kashafa Stadium. If Jawiya won against Al-Zawraa, they would be the champions unless Al-Shorta won by a hugely unrealistic scoreline against Al-Sulaikh. Al-Shorta had to beat Al-Sulaikh and hope that Jawiya did not win against Al-Zawraa in order for them to win the title and Al-Zawraa had to beat Jawiya and hope that Al-Shorta failed to beat Al-Sulaikh if they wanted to win the league.

Haider Hameed scored on the 21st minute for Al-Shorta to put them in the lead against Al-Sulaikh and keep their title hopes alive. However, lowly Al-Sulaikh shocked everybody when Salim Khanjar and Mohammed Ali Abbas each scored in quick succession in the opening half to go 2–1 ahead and severely dent Al-Shorta's hopes of winning their second ever Iraqi Premier League title. Over at Al-Shaab Stadium, Jawiya had opened the scoring against Al-Zawraa through Razzaq Farhan's close-range finish but Adnan Mohammed's one-on-one finish soon after brought the game to one apiece. A draw would be enough for Jawiya to win the title if Al-Shorta failed to defeat Al-Sulaikh. Al-Shorta attacked and attacked but it was looking more and more unlikely for them to win the title as the clock ticked on and they were still 2–1 behind. But, they then produced one of the most memorable and stunning comebacks in the history of Iraqi football, shocking fans, pundits and players alike all over the country. With just six minutes of normal time left to score two goals, Al-Shorta were in deep trouble. They managed to get one in the 84th minute when a header was tipped onto the crossbar by Al-Sulaikh’s goalkeeper and Al-Shorta's Mufeed Assem managed to poke the ball home. The goalkeeper did manage to parry the ball away but the ball had already crossed the line in the opinion of the referee (very few players protested the decision) and it was 2–2. But a 2–2 draw was still not enough for Al-Shorta; they still needed another goal from somewhere.

At Al-Shaab Stadium, Jawiya's crucial game with Al-Zawraa had ended at 1–1, ending Al-Zawraa's hopes of winning the league and meaning that Al-Shorta would win the league if they could grab one more goal. False news filtered through Al-Shaab Stadium that Al-Shorta had drawn their game 2–2 with Al-Sulaikh (which would have meant that Jawiya were the champions) when of course the game was not over. In what was a comedic but unfortunate moment for Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya's players and staff, they gathered round the centre of the pitch celebrating, believing that they had won the title. Players were on their knees and they even performed a lap of honour in front of the jubilant crowd with their manager Ayoub Odisho celebrating with the spectators and receiving 'bumps' from his players. Odisho began an interview that was broadcast live on Iraqi television and was telling the cameras how happy he was that he had led his side to the title. All would change for them in a matter of minutes.

Al-Shorta's game was very close to its end. With just a few minutes to go, Al-Sulaikh went down to ten men due to a horrible foul from behind on an Al-Shorta player as he was bearing down on goal. It was the perfect opportunity for Al-Shorta to throw everybody forward and in the third minute of stoppage time, their determination and will to be champions paid off as Al-Sulaikh's Haider Kadhim gave away a careless penalty by bringing down an opposing player in the box. The league's top scorer, Mahmoud Majeed, was brave enough to step up to take the crucial spot-kick and showed nerves of steel as he coolly sent the 'keeper the wrong way by rolling the ball to the 'keeper's right and sending Al-Shorta's players and fans into ecstasy at Al-Kashafa Stadium. The referee blew the final whistle soon after the goal and Al-Shorta were the champions of the Iraqi Premier League for the second time in their illustrious history. The news that Al Shorta had won the game late on and won the title was revealed by the stadium announcer at Al-Shaab Stadium and Jawiya's fans and players stopped celebrating. The players trudged off of the pitch in embarrassment just a week after a 97th-minute goal from Al-Zawraa saw them lose the Iraq FA Cup final. Manager Ayoub Odisho heard the news halfway through his interview and, in what is now one of the most infamous moments in the league’s history, Odisho stopped talking and stood in silence with a horrified, distraught face. It was another despairing moment for Jawiya but an amazing moment for Al-Shorta whose hard work and determination saw them lift the famous trophy after travelling to Al-Shaab Stadium to collect it. Al-Shorta ended the season two points ahead of Jawiya and three points ahead of Al-Zawraa with a record of 23 wins, four draws and three defeats from 30 games. Remarkably, Al-Shorta scored in every single league match of the season.[47]

This qualified Al-Shorta to the Al-Muthabara Cup (now known as Iraqi Super Cup) final where they would play cup winners Al-Zawraa but they were defeated 1–0.[21] This season also saw them reach the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup Winners' Cup, earning wins over Al-Seeb and Bargh Shiraz before their quarter-final exit.[48]

1998–2005: League and cup success continues[edit]

Al-Shorta reached the quarter-finals of the 1999–2000 Asian Club Championship (later to be known as the AFC Champions League), just missing out on a semi-final spot in what was another respectable tournament for the club.[48] The first few years of the 2000s brought both joy and pain to Al-Shorta fans. The pain came in the form of their fourth and fifth Iraq FA Cup final defeats in 2002 and 2003, both 1–0 defeats against rivals Al-Talaba, continuing Al-Shorta's unwanted record of most FA Cup final appearances without victory.[21] However, there was more success than disappointment during these years.

Al-Shorta won two more international competitions in 2002: the Arab Police Championship and the Al-Quds International Championship,[23] but the greatest joy of this period came when Al-Shorta became the first team to win the Iraqi Elite Cup three times in a row and also won their first ever major domestic double (albeit a League and Elite Cup double rather than a League and FA Cup double) when they coupled their final Elite Cup victory with the 2002–03 league title. The first Elite Cup win came in 2000 when Al-Shorta defeated Al-Zawraa 1–0 thanks to a close range goal from Amir Mushref. They retained the cup the following season with a 1–0 victory over Al-Talaba thanks to Mahir Habib's golden goal and they made it a record three on the bounce with another 1–0 triumph over Al-Talaba thanks to an own goal from one of their defenders. Al-Shorta's aforementioned domestic double was sealed in an unconventional way as the second stage of the 2002–03 league had to be abandoned midway through due to the war situation at the time; Al-Shorta were awarded the title as they were on top of the league after the end of the first stage (i.e. first 19 games).[50]

In April 2003, legendary goalkeeper Raad Hammoudi became Al-Shorta's club president and he saved the club from bankruptcy after the war.[51] Al-Shorta participated in the 2003 edition of the Arab Champions League and the 2004 and 2005 editions of the AFC Champions Leagues but failed to win a game in any of the three competitions (apart from two walkover victories in the 2004 AFC Champions League) and were knocked out in the group stages in all three years.[52][48] However, 2004 did see a better tournament for Al-Shorta as they finished fourth in the Algomhuria International Cup, losing the third-place play off on penalties to Egyptian club Al-Ittihad Al-Sakandary.[53] They also participated in the Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Ramadan International Football Championship that year, but the tournament was abandoned midway through after the death of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.[54]

In the 2004–05 Iraqi Premier League, Al-Shorta qualified to the elite stage but were knocked out after losing to Al-Zawraa and Al-Najaf.[55] In November 2005, they won the Baghdad Cup that was held in support of the families that had lost loved ones in the Al-Aaimmah bridge stampede, beating Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2–0 with goals from Faris Abdul-Sattar and Mustafa Karim. This would be their last trophy of any sort for eight years.

2005–2012: Decline and relegation battle[edit]

In the 2005–06 Iraqi Premier League they finished top of their group in the first stage without losing any matches, but were knocked out again at the elite stage after defeats to Karbalaa and Al-Najaf.[56] The 2006–07 season was a similar story for Al-Shorta as they won every match in their first group but lost to Al-Talaba, Karbalaa and Erbil in the elite stage.[57] The 2007–08 Iraqi Premier League campaign for Al-Shorta was once again very similar to the previous two – they finished top of their group in the first stage with just one loss from 22 matches, but were knocked out at the elite stage after to losing to Al-Najaf and Al-Zawraa.[58] In the 2008–09 season there was no elite stage, which meant that Al-Shorta had to top their first group (like they had in each of the last three seasons) to advance but this time they only managed an 8th-place finish in their group.[59] The format of the league returned to include an elite stage in the 2009–10 Iraqi Premier Division, and Al-Shorta once again managed to reach the elite stage. They were 2–0 up against Al-Najaf in their final elite stage game, knowing that a win would qualify them to the semi-finals, but they threw away their lead to draw 2–2 and were knocked out of the elite stage yet again.[60]

In the 2010–11 season, Al-Shorta had one of the worst seasons in their history. They were not a force to be reckoned with at all in this season and under the guidance of legendary striker Younis Abid Ali, Al-Shorta were almost relegated, finishing approximately 16th in the league and surviving the drop on goal difference thanks to Amjad Kalaf's heroics on the final day of the season as he scored both goals in a 2–0 win over Al-Naft.[61] The 2011–12 Iraqi Elite League returned to the normal league system of each team playing the other teams in their league home and away (without any elite stages or knockout rounds) and former Al-Shorta player Basim Qasim took over the club for that season. Unlike the previous season, Al-Shorta were one of the top-performing teams in the league for the majority of the season and were battling to finish in the top three positions to qualify for continental competition, but they went on a terrible run of six defeats in their final seven matches which saw them drop all the way down to seventh place.[62] Midway through the campaign, Ayad Bunyan became Al-Shorta's president: a man who would change the club significantly in the next few years and help them end their eight-year wait for a trophy and ten-year wait for a league title.[23]

2012–present: Return of glory years[edit]

Starting line-up for 3–0 win against Al-Talaba which secured the 2012–13 league title.[63]

Iraqi coach Thair Jassam was appointed to be the manager for the 2012–13 season, and the club immediately began to see improvements in their performances and results. Al-Shorta managed to win their first trophy for eight years when they defeated Al-Zawraa 1–0 to win the Baghdad Cup in 2013, and just two years after narrowly avoiding relegation, Al-Shorta won their fourth ever Iraqi Premier League title to secure the double. Despite being on top of the table for the majority of the season, the 2012–13 title was not secured until the final day when Al-Shorta thrashed Al-Talaba 3–0 at Al-Shaab Stadium to finish two points ahead of Erbil and three ahead of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.[63]

The next season, Al-Shorta successfully defended their Iraqi Premier League title for the first time as they pipped Erbil to the title by just a point, and Brazilian Lorival Santos became only the second foreign manager ever to win the Iraqi Premier League; Al-Shorta also appeared in the AFC Champions League qualifiers, losing 1–0 to Al-Kuwait. This meant that they would play in the AFC Cup but after four goalless draws from six games, Al-Shorta failed to reach the knockout stage of the tournament.[64] They managed to get to the knockout stage of that tournament in the next season but were knocked out at the round of 16 stage by Al-Kuwait and the club finished in third in the league that season.[23]

Al-Shorta's recent successes are largely down to the influence of Ayad Bunyan who was able to attract both professional foreign players and top Iraqi players to the club. Not only did he help the club to win trophies, but he also changed the club's logo, proposed an idea for a new stadium which is currently in construction and got Al-Shorta both a kit manufacturer in Nike and a kit sponsor in Royal Arena Sport among other achievements and he is now regarded as a true club legend.[65] Ayad Bunyan was replaced as club president by Riyadh Abdul-Abbas during the 2014–15 season, but Riyadh left midway through the 2015–16 campaign with Ayad Abdul-Rahman taking on the role on an interim basis. In the 2015–16 Iraqi Premier League, Al-Shorta qualified for the elite stage, where a six-game winless run saw them finish the season in seventh place.[66] In that season, they had four different managers. On 28 May 2016, the elections for club president saw Abdul-Rahman become the president on a permanent basis. The 2016–17 season saw Al-Shorta move back up to third in the league, missing out on continental qualification due to a final day defeat to Al-Minaa, meanwhile they were knocked out at the round of 32 in the Iraq FA Cup.[23] On 5 August 2017, new elections were held at the request of the Minister of Interior, and the popular Ayad Bunyan was re-elected as club president.

Emblem[edit]

Aliyat Al-Shorta's logo from 1962 to 1974 consisted of a star with the words Iraqi Police written in the centre in Arabic. Surrounding the star were laurel leaves. In August 1974, Al-Shorta became a sports club which led to a change of logo. The new crest was white and circular, and consisted of a green harp (representative of the club's nickname) on top of the Olympic rings (which were there to signify that Al-Shorta were a sports club as opposed to just a football club), surrounded by green laurel leaves. Below the Olympic rings was the club's year of foundation and their Arabic and English names also featured at the bottom of the logo. Between 1974 and 2005, Al-Shorta never wore the badge in its entirety on their kits; instead only the green harp of the logo featured on the shirt up until 2002 when the laurel leaves and Olympic rings were added to the kit.

At the start of the 2005–06 season, Al-Shorta adopted a brand new crest featuring mainly the colours blue and green. On the top and bottom of the logo was written the club's name in Arabic and English respectively, whilst a green harp featured in the centre of the logo with the club's year of foundation written on either side in Arabic and English. The Iraq flag also featured on the crest for the first time in the club's history. They kept this logo for seven years before reverting to their previous white crest in the 2012–13 season, a season that saw them win the league title. Unlike before, the crest featured on the kit in its entirety this time. On 12 December 2013, just before the start of 2014 AFC Champions League qualifying play-off, Al-Shorta announced they were to change to a brand new logo. This badge was designed by Luay Abdul-Rahman, the artistic director of Al-Shorta's newspaper. As opposed to the previous logos, the harp in the centre of the logo is gold rather than green, and gold is a prevalent colour in the current crest. The foundation year of the club is at the top with the Iraqi flag at the bottom, below the words Al-Shorta Sports Club. After winning the 2013–14 Iraqi Premier League, a gold star was added above the crest to represent the club's ten league titles (five Central League and five Premier League). This was later changed to two stars to represent their two successful Champions League campaigns in 1971 and 1982, and this remains the club's logo today.[67]

Kits[edit]

Amjad Kalaf wearing Al-Shorta's home kit in the 2013–14 season, in which they won the Iraqi Premier League title.

Aliyat Al-Shorta wore violet home kits, often with a white diagonal sash, between 1962 and 1974.[68] When Al-Shorta became a sports club in 1974, the team switched to mainly using green home kits (with white trimmings) and white away kits (with green trimmings) which remain the club's main colours to this day.[69] They have also worn green and white stripes or hoops in various years, and since 1974 they have occasionally worn violet away or third kits including in 1975,[70] 1977,[71] 2004,[72] 2014[73] and since 2016.[74][23] Al-Shorta's current kits are manufactured by Nike.[75]

Shirt sponsors[edit]

Al-Shorta's shirts have featured a number of different sponsors' logos over the years:

Period Shirt sponsor
1998–1999 Shai Nasoor[76][77]
1999–2003 Samsung[78]
2002–2003 Vodafone*
2003 Peugeot[79]
2004 Pizza Service*
2005 Motorola[80]
2005–2006 Lay's[81]
2006–2007 MTC-Vodafone[82]
2007–2008 Asia Cell (on front)[83]
IraqCom (on back)
2014–2015 Royal Arena Sport[84]
* Goalkeeper kit only.

Supporters[edit]

Ultras Green Harp's logo since 2015.

Ultras Green Harp is an ultras group that was formed in 2012 at the start of the 2012–13 season and grew to about 3,000 members in its first three months. That number has since risen to over 12,000 and the ultras group is now one of Iraq's most recognised and respected fan groups.[23] The idea of starting an ultras group came from Al-Shorta fans discussing the idea on Facebook and eventually coming together to create the group. They named it Ultras Green Harp as the club's nickname is the Green Harp. The number of members gradually increased with every passing game of the 2012–13 campaign until it was the biggest fans group in the Iraqi Premier League. Al-Shorta won the league in the ultras group's first season in existence. The group leads the chants inside the stadium and provides flags and banners for fans to wave during the game to create an exciting atmosphere. It is a self-financed group that travels to both home and away matches in cities all over Iraq.

Before kickoff, the Ultras Green Harp members (who always wear green shirts during matches) usually hold up a large banner to intimidate the opposition. This banner changes with every match depending on the opposition. For example, before a match with rivals Al-Talaba in April 2016, fans held a banner showing a man in an Al-Shorta shirt grabbing a man in an Al-Talaba shirt by the neck, whilst before a match with Naft Al-Wasat, fans held up a banner saying "Revenge" after Naft Al-Wasat had pipped them to the title the previous season by beating them twice.[85] They are known for setting off fireworks when Al-Shorta score a goal and using flares before and during games. During the match, they typically wave flags and chant songs, and often use instruments such as drums and air horns, to create a lively atmosphere.[23]

Rivalries[edit]

Al-Shorta are one of the top four clubs in Baghdad. The club compete in Baghdad derbies with the other three big clubs in Baghdad: Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Al-Zawraa, and Al-Talaba.[86] Of the three teams, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya are the most local to Al-Shorta, as their stadium is located mere metres away from Al-Shorta's, on the opposite side of Falastin Street.

Stadiums[edit]

Al-Shorta Stadium[edit]

Al-Shorta Stadium was the name of Al-Shorta's old home ground. It held approximately 7,000 people. The white hall on the side of the field could hold approximately 2,000 people. The stadium had no seats, but instead there were stairs on each side of the playing field and spectators sat or stood on these stairs. It was home to many great matches for Al-Shorta. It was built by volunteers and Al-Shorta fans and staff at the club, making the stadium even more special. Abdul-Kadir Zeinal, Al-Shorta's manager from 1975 to 1979, was the man who came up with the idea of building the stadium and the supporters approved of the idea and helped to build the stadium. After a few years of construction, the stadium was opened in 1983. In 2008, the stands were painted green and white to match the club's colours. It was demolished in 2014 to make way for Al-Shorta Sports City.[87]

Al-Shorta Sports City[edit]

Early in the 2012–13 season, Al-Shorta's president at the time, Ayad Bunyan, announced plans to build a new stadium with plastic seats and other sports facilities around it. On 20 December 2013, the chairman of Nordic Sport (the Swedish company who is building the stadium) announced the initiation of construction of Al-Shorta Sports City. Rather than being just a stadium, it is a 'sports city' because of the many more sports facilities, sports halls, buildings and entertainment at the venue. The sports city includes an all-seater stadium with a capacity of over 10,000. The project will cost over 22 million pounds.[87]

On 7 January 2015, AKG Engineering released a video showing what Al-Shorta Sports City should look like once construction is completed.[9] The stands will have purple and green seats (a testament to the great Aliyat Al-Shorta team of the 1960s and 1970s) and some white seats on the main stand will spell out the words 'Police Club' alongside the club's name in Arabic. The main stand will have a roof over it. Next to the stadium will be a training field where players will train every week and this training field will have an athletics track around it. Also at the sports city will be an indoor swimming pool with 1,500 seats, a multi-purpose closed hall with 2,500 seats, a full-quality relaxation club (with sports facilities), restaurants, theatres, meeting areas and a shopping centre among other things.[88][89]

Players[edit]

First-team squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Iraq GK Ahmed Basil
2 Iraq DF Karrar Mohammed
3 Iraq DF Ali Lateef
4 Iraq DF Ali Faez (on loan from Çaykur Rizespor)
5 Iraq MF Hussein Abdul-Wahed (captain)
6 Ghana MF Akwetey Mensah
7 Iraq FW Alaa Abdul-Zahra
8 Brazil FW Jefferson Araújo
9 Iraq MF Mahdi Kamel
12 Iraq FW Ammar Abdul-Hussein
13 Iraq MF Amjad Waleed
14 Ghana MF Asiedu Attobrah
15 Iraq DF Alaa Mhawi
No. Position Player
17 Iraq MF Nabeel Sabah
18 Iraq FW Mohanad Ali
20 Iraq GK Mohammed Hameed
21 Iraq GK Abdulaziz Ammar
22 Iraq DF Hussam Kadhim
23 Iraq DF Waleed Salem (vice-captain)
24 Iraq DF Faisal Jassim
25 Iraq MF Mohammed Mohsen
26 Iraq MF Moamel Kareem
30 Iraq GK Neriman Khedher
32 Iraq DF Ahmed Mohammed
Iraq FW Aqeel Khairi
Iraq FW Rafid Muayad

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Iraq GK Mohammed Abbas (on loan at Al-Kahraba until the end of the 2017–18 season)
Iraq MF Ahmad Ayad (on loan at Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya until the end of the 2017–18 season)
Iraq FW Abdul-Qadir Tariq (on loan at Al-Talaba until the end of the 2017–18 season)
Iraq FW Karrar Hameed (on loan at Al-Kahraba until the end of the 2017–18 season)

Personnel[edit]

Technical Staff[edit]

Position Name Nationality
Manager: Thair Jassam Iraq
Assistant manager: Ahmed Salah Iraq
Assistant manager: Haitham Al-Shebool Jordan
Team supervisor: Saad Qais Iraq
Fitness coach: Costa López Brazil
Goalkeeping coach: Nouri Abid Zaid Iraq
Director of football: Hashim Ridha Iraq

Management[edit]

Position Name Nationality
President: Ayad Bunyan Iraq
Vice-president: Abdul-Wahab Al-Tai Iraq
Financial Secretary: Uday Tariq Iraq
Board Secretary Alaa Bahar Al-Uloom Iraq
Member of the Board: Sadiq Jafar Iraq
Member of the Board: Ghazi Faisal Iraq
Member of the Board: Tahseen Al-Yassri Iraq
Member of the Board: Ali Al-Shahmani Iraq
Member of the Board: Ghalib Al-Zamili Iraq
Member of the Board: Ahsan Al-Daraji Iraq

Statistics and records[edit]

Al-Shorta's tally of five Iraqi Premier League titles is the joint-third highest in history and their tally of five Iraqi Central League titles is the joint-highest in history. Their total of three Iraqi Elite Cups is also the highest, joint with Al-Zawraa, Al-Talaba and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. They are the only team to have won the Iraqi Central League and Iraqi Elite Cup tournaments three times in a row.[21] Al-Shorta are one of only three Iraqi clubs to have ever won a major international club competition, and the only existing Iraqi club to have won a major top-tier international competition. Al-Shorta and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya are the only two sides to have featured in every Iraqi Premier League season since its inception in 1974.[90]

Abid Kadhim holds the record for the most appearances for Al-Shorta, and he also managed the club two different times after his playing career. Younis Abid Ali has scored the most goals for Al-Shorta in their history, and his tally of 153 Iraqi Premier League goals is the fourth highest in the history of the league.[23] His tally of 36 goals in the 1993–94 season is the highest number of goals that a player has scored in a single Iraqi Premier League season.[91] Al-Shorta's biggest ever win is an 11–1 victory over Al-Samawa in the Iraq FA Cup; their record defeat is an 11–0 defeat to Al-Naqil in the 1974–75 Iraqi National League.[23] They also hold the record for most goals scored in a single half of a match in Iraqi football, scoring 10 goals in the first 45 minutes of a 10–1 win over Al-Bahri on 14 December 1998 in the Iraq FA Cup. Hashim Ridha and Arkan Mahmoud both scored hat-tricks while Younis Abed Ali scored a brace and Abdul-Hussein Jawad and Qais Essa bagged one each.

In 2014, a record number of Al-Shorta players were called up for a matchday squad by the Iraq national team. Ten players in total were called up for a friendly with Kuwait; these players were Mohammed Hameed, Salam Shakir, Ali Bahjat, Waleed Salem, Dhurgham Ismail, Mahdi Karim, Amjad Kalaf, Mahdi Kamel, Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Marwan Hussein. Another record was set when seven Al-Shorta players started the game (the most in history) with those seven being the entire back-four (Ali Bahjat, Salam Shakir, Dhurgham Ismail and Mahdi Karim) and three attacking players (Amjad Kalaf, Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Marwan Hussein). Also, Waleed Salem was substituted onto the field during the game, which ended 1–1.[92]

Younis Abid Ali is Al-Shorta's record goal scorer.

The record for number of Al-Shorta players called up for an Iraq matchday squad was equalled in March 2015 when Mohammed Gassid, Mohammed Hameed, Salam Shakir, Ali Bahjat, Dhurgham Ismail, Hussein Abdul-Wahed, Amjad Kalaf, Mahdi Kamel, Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Marwan Hussein made up ten of the 25 players for the squad chosen for two friendlies against DR Congo. Iraq called up nine Al-Shorta players for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, setting a new record for the highest number of Al-Shorta players ever called up by Iraq for a major competition. These nine players were Mohammed Hameed, Salam Shakir, Ali Bahjat, Waleed Salem, Dhurgham Ismail, Amjad Kalaf, Mahdi Kamel, Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Marwan Hussein.[23]

Al-Shorta finished the 1980–81 Iraqi National League season without having lost a single game; four other clubs (Al-Zawraa, Al-Minaa, Salahaddin and Al-Jaish) have also achieved this feat since the inception of the Iraqi Premier League in 1974. Al-Shorta were the first team to play 100 Iraqi Premier League games, the first team to play 200 Iraqi Premier League games, the first team to play 300 Iraqi Premier League games and the second team to play 1000 Iraqi Premier League games.[90] Al-Shorta were ranked as the 35th best Asian club of the century (1901–2000),[93] and the 154th best Asian club in the last decade (2001–2010)[94] by the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics). Al-Shorta were also ranked as the 169th best club in the world by IFFHS in the 2001–02 season.[95] Meanwhile, the Oosterpark Rankings have placed Al-Shorta as the 62nd best Asian club of all-time,[96] the 48th best Arab club of all-time,[97] and the 1044th all-time best club in the world[98] (these three rankings are as of 31 December 2013). The highest Al-Shorta have ever placed in the Oosterpark Rankings for best clubs in the world is 740th, which they achieved in 1982, the year that they won the Arab Champions League.

Managers[edit]

1932–1974[edit]

Name[25]
Iraq Mudhafar Ahmed
State of Palestine Dennis Nasrawi
Iraq Mohammed Saeed Wasif
Iraq Sabir Lateef
Iraq Fadhel Al-Samarrai
Iraq Fahmi Al-Qaimaqchi
Iraq Ahmed Abdul-Razzaq
Iraq Fahmi Al-Qaimaqchi
Iraq Mohammed Najib Kaban

1974–present[edit]

Dates Name[12]
1974–1975 Iraq Younis Hussein
1975–1979 Iraq Abdul-Kadir Zeinal
1979–1982 Iraq Douglas Aziz
1982–1983 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Rajko Menista
1983 Iraq Abid Kadhim
1983–1984 Iraq Munthir Al-Waadh
1984 Iraq Mohammed Tabra
1984–1985 Iraq Thamir Muhsin
Iraq Wathiq Naji
1985 Iraq Mohammed Tabra
1985–1987 Iraq Abid Kadhim
1987–1988 Iraq Douglas Aziz
1988 Iraq Douglas Aziz
Iraq Abdelilah Abdul-Hamed[a]
1988–1989 Iraq Douglas Aziz
1989–1990 Iraq Mohammed Tabra
1990–1991 Iraq Douglas Aziz
1991–1992 Iraq Mohammed Tabra
1992 Iraq Faisal Aziz
1992 Iraq Saad Jamil
1992 Iraq Douglas Aziz
1992 Iraq Ammo Baba
1992–1993 Iraq Mudhafar Nouri
1993–1994 Iraq Basim Qasim
Iraq Muwafaq Hussein
1994–1995 Iraq Saad Jamil
1995–1996 Iraq Kadhim Al-Rubaie
Dates Name
1996 Iraq Basim Qasim
1996 Iraq Mudhafar Nouri
1996–1997 Iraq Faisal Aziz
1997 Iraq Adnan Jafar
1997 Iraq Ammo Baba
1997 Iraq Abdelilah Abdul-Hamed
Iraq Ayoub Odisho
1997–1998 Iraq Abdelilah Abdul-Hamed
1998–1999 Iraq Faisal Aziz
1999–2000 Iraq Ahmed Radhi
Iraq Najih Humoud[b]
2000–2001 Iraq Ahmed Radhi
2001–2002 Iraq Yassin Amal
2002 Iraq Ammo Baba
2002 Iraq Ammo Baba
Iraq Nasrat Nassir[c]
2002 Iraq Ammo Baba
2002 Iraq Basim Qasim
2002–2003 Iraq Abdelilah Abdul-Hamed
2003 Iraq Hassan Farhan
2003 Iraq Basim Qasim
2003–2005 Iraq Younis Abid Ali
2005 Iraq Salih Radhi
2005 Iraq Hamed Salman
2005–2006 Iraq Kadhim Al-Rubaie
2006 Iraq Mohammed Khalaf
2006 Iraq Yahya Alwan
Dates Name
2006–2007 Iraq Shaker Mahmoud
2007 Iraq Kadhim Khalaf
2007 Iraq Karim Farhan
2007–2008 Iraq Thair Ahmed
2008 Iraq Faisal Aziz
2008–2009 Iraq Maitham Mutaab
Iraq Muwafaq Hussein
2009–2010 Iraq Rahim Hameed
2010 Iraq Hakim Shaker
2010–2011 Iraq Younis Abid Ali
2011 Iraq Hakim Shaker
2011 Iraq Nabil Zaki
2011–2012 Iraq Basim Qasim
2012 Iraq Mohammed Tabra
2012–2013 Iraq Thair Jassam
2013–2014 Brazil Lorival Santos
2014–2015 Egypt Mohamed Youssef
2015 Iraq Thair Jassam
2015 Iraq Hakim Shaker
2015–2016 Iraq Qahtan Chathir
2016 Iraq Radhi Shenaishil
2016 Iraq Hashim Ridha
2016–2017 Egypt Mohamed Youssef
2017 Iraq Nadhum Shaker
2017–2018 Brazil Marcos Paquetá
2018 Iraq Ahmad Salah
2018– Iraq Thair Jassam
Notes
  1. ^ Abdelilah Abdul-Hamed managed Al-Jaish in 1988, and Al-Jaish represented Al-Shorta at the 1988 Arab Police Championship.
  2. ^ Iraq national team coach Najih Humoud was assigned by the Iraq Football Association to manage the club during their 1999–2000 Asian Club Championship campaign.
  3. ^ Nasrat Nassir managed the Iraq U-19 team in 2002, and the Iraq U-19 team represented Al-Shorta at the 2002 Arab Police Championship.

Club legends[edit]

Nashat Akram captained Al-Shorta to the 2012–13 Iraqi Elite League title.

The following 30 players (all from Iraq) are noted as "greats" by the club's website for their contributions to the club.[99] The list below is in chronological order of their time at the club.

# Player Pos.
1 Albert Khoshaba Forward
2 Gilbert Sami Defender
3 Lateef Shandal Goalkeeper
4 Mudhafar Nouri Forward
5 Abid Kadhim Defender
6 Tariq Aziz Forward
7 Douglas Aziz Midfielder
8 Sabah Hatem Forward
9 Mohammed Tabra Defender
10 Riyadh Nouri Midfielder
11 Ali Hussein Mahmoud Forward
12 Raad Hammoudi Goalkeeper
13 Faisal Aziz Forward
14 Basim Qasim Defender
15 Younis Abid Ali Forward
# Player Pos.
16 Saad Qais Midfielder
17 Emad Hashim Goalkeeper
18 Mahmoud Majeed Forward
19 Mufeed Assem Forward
20 Ziyad Tariq Defender
21 Amir Mushref Forward
22 Mahir Habib Defender
23 Abbas Rahim Forward
24 Hashim Ridha Forward
25 Nashat Akram Midfielder
26 Ali Hussein Jalil Goalkeeper
27 Mustafa Karim Forward
28 Amjad Kalaf Forward
29 Hussein Karim Forward
30 Dhurgham Ismail Defender

Honours[edit]

Domestic[edit]

National[edit]

Winners (5): 1979–80, 1997–98, 2002–03, 2012–13, 2013–14
Winners (3): 2000, 2001, 2002

Regional[edit]

Winners (5): 1962–63, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1971–72

International[edit]

Finalists (1): 1971[a]
  1. ^ Al-Shorta were set to play Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final but withdrew in protest at the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They are regarded as the winners of the tournament by the Iraqi and Arab media (and by the club itself) after Israel were subsequently expelled from the AFC with all their clubs therefore barred from competing in AFC tournaments again.[15][16][17]
Winners (1): 1982

Friendly[edit]

Montakhab Al-Shorta players with the Taha Al-Hashimi Cup that they won in 1938.
  • Arab Police Championship
Winners (5): 1976, 1978, 1985, 1988, 2002
Winners (2): 2005, 2013
  • Al-Nasr Al-Adheem Cup
Winners (2): 1987, 1996
  • Republics Cup
Winners (2): 1968, 1969
  • Al-Quds International Championship
Winners (1): 2002
  • President's Gold Cup
Winners (1): 1983
  • Chief of Police Cup
Winners (1): 1972
  • Olympic Club Cup
Winners (1): 1939
  • Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya Cup
Winners (1): 1939
  • Taha Al-Hashimi Cup
Winners (1): 1938

[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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