Tripped-up Syrian refugee starts new football life in Spain
The Syrian refugee football coach who made world headlines when a Hungarian camerawoman tripped him as he fled said Thursday he felt "fantastic" to be starting a new life in Spain.
Osama Abdul Mohsen, a former first division football trainer in Syria, arrived in Spain late on Wednesday night with two of his sons and was welcomed by a soccer coaching school that has offered him a job.
"Our first day in Madrid is very fantastic. I am very, very happy. Thank you," he told reporters on Thursday outside the apartment where he is being lodged in southern Madrid.
Arriving late the previous night in Madrid by train he told reporters: "Thank you, Spain. I love Madrid, I love Spain. This is very important for my life."
Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said Mohsen's case would be processed as quickly as possible.
Mohsen was formerly manager of Syrian first division side Al-Fotuwa.
On September 9 camerawoman Petra Laszlo was filmed tripping him as he fled with his son in his arms near the Hungarian border.
Laszlo was fired from her job and later apologised, saying she "panicked".
Mohsen was brought to Spain by the CENAFE coaches' training school in the Madrid suburb of Getafe.
"We are a national coaching school so we decided to help a fellow coach," its director Miguel Angel Galan said on the radio.
Galan said CENAFE also aimed to bring over the Syrian coach's wife and two other children, who were reported to be in a refugee camp in Turkey.
"We are going to try and find them," Galan told reporters. "The story is not finished. We are halfway towards granting them total happiness."
Spain's conservative government has agreed to receive more than 17,000 refugees of the hundreds of thousands arriving in Europe, but has been accused of dragging its feet.
"The humanitarian principal prevails over all other considerations" in this case, Fernandez Diaz said.
But he warned: "Not just any town or region can do it because the right to asylum is under the authority of the state."
Madrid, Barcelona and other towns have offered themselves as "cities of refuge" for Syrians and others.
The mayor of Getafe, Sara Hernandez, called on the government to speed up bureaucratic procedures to grant refugee status.
© 2015 AFP