This combo shows Lebanese midfielder Qassem Ali Shamkha, 19, left, posing for a picture in Sidon and Mohammad Diab, third left, celebrating a month prior to his death with teammate Hussein al Amin, right in red. (AFP and Facebook)
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The Lebanese footballers dying in the Syria conflictAthletes around the world using their star status to promote causes is nothing new, but the death in Syria last week of promising 19-year-old footballer Kassem Shamkha illustrated the darker side of the phenomenon in Lebanon's football community. However, a source from reigning Lebanese Premier League champions Safa told The Daily Star that the Lebanese Football Association had called on clubs to do more.Kassem was far from the only footballer to go to Syria.Wael Chehayeb, secretary-general of Diab's Lebanese Premier League team, described the man as respectful, pleasant and a very talented player."Around 40 days after he got his release from Akhaa, we heard about his suicide bombing," Chehayeb said.Unfortunately, he echoed Assi's skepticism that clubs can do more to prevent players leaving to fight in Syria. While there have been several cases of Lebanese footballers traveling to Syria to fight, the problem is not isolated to here.
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