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 18 different sports, more than any other Iraqi club, and the best known section of the club is the football team, whose origins date back to 1932 with the police-representative team Montakhab Al-Shorta. In 1974, following the Iraq FA's decision to limit representation of the Iraqi Police in the new league to a single club, Al-Shorta were inaugurated as a sports club and were attached to the Ministry of Interior.
|Full name||Al-Shorta Sports Club|
|Nickname(s)||Al-Qithara (The Harp); القيثارة|
|Founded||14 November 1932, as Montakhab Al-Shorta|
|Owner||Ministry of Interior|
|League||Iraqi Premier League|
|2018–19||Iraqi Premier League, 1st of 20 (champions)|
They are one of Iraq's most successful clubs having been crowned the inaugural Arab Club Champions Cup winners in 1982. They were also runners-up of what is now the AFC Champions League in 1971 where they refused to face Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final in protest at the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They were referred to as champions by the Iraqi media and were greeted with a heroes' reception upon their return to Baghdad, holding an open top bus parade. Al-Shorta have added two stars above their logo to represent these two achievements.
They are the reigning champions of the Iraqi Premier League, having won their fifth title in the 2018–19 season. They 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. Al-Shorta hold numerous Premier League records in Iraq, such as the longest unbeaten run, the fewest losses in a season, the most consecutive wins in a season, the most consecutive games scored in and the most seasons played in the top flight.
Al-Shorta's origins can be traced back to the year 1932 with the formation of the police-representative football team Montakhab Al-Shorta (Police Selection) on 14 November and their participation in the second edition of the Prince Ghazi Cup. Montakhab Al-Shorta's first trophy came in 1938, when they won the Taha Al-Hashimi Cup (named after Iraqi general Taha Al-Hashimi), before winning the Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya Cup and the Al-Olympi Club Cup the following year. In 1957, Montakhab Al-Shorta won the Hilla Mutasarrif Cup with a 4–0 victory over the Hilla select team. In 1960, the Police Games Committee, later known as Police Games Directorate, was founded to take control of police-representative sports in Iraq, and they founded several other police-representative teams throughout the 1960s.
After winning their first Iraq Central FA League title in the 1962–63 season, Montakhab Al-Shorta were renamed to Madaris Al-Shorta (Police Schools), a name that was previously used from 1950 to 1952. However, Madaris Al-Shorta were relegated shortly after and were disbanded in 1966. Aliyat Al-Shorta (Police Machinery), a police-representative team founded in 1961 by the Police Games Directorate (PGD), had won the region's third-tier title in 1962 and the second-tier title in 1963, and under the management of Mohammed Najeeb Kaban, they became one of the strongest teams in the region. Along with winning the Police Director General Cup and the Police Cup Championship in 1965 as well as the Alexandria International Summer Tournament in 1967, Aliyat Al-Shorta won four league titles in a row (1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69 and 1969–70), while a select team consisting of the best players from the PGD's sides won two consecutive Republic Championships in 1968 and 1969.
In 1971, participating under the name Al-Shorta Baghdad, they became the first Iraqi team to take part in Asia's main club competition, the Asian Champion Club Tournament, and made history by becoming the first Arab side to reach the final. 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, waving the Palestinian flag around the field and taking the runner-up spot. They were regarded as champions by the Iraqi media (the Al-Mal'ab newspaper headline the following day read: "The Champions of Asia Return to Baghdad") and were greeted with a heroes' reception upon their return to the country, holding an open top bus parade. Israel were later expelled from the AFC and their clubs now compete in UEFA competitions. Aliyat Al-Shorta won the league title again in 1971–72, also picking up another Police Director General Cup.
In 1974, the Iraq Football Association (IFA) formed the Iraqi National League, an official nationwide league of clubs. As they were not formally registered clubs, the PGD's teams including Aliyat Al-Shorta were stripped of their licenses to compete in official competitions, and were consigned to competing in unofficial tournaments such as the Armed Forces League and the Baghdad Police tournaments. With the IFA dictating that only one police-representative club would be allowed to participate in the new league, "Al-Shorta Sports Club" was thus inaugurated as a sports club in 1974 by the Iraqi Olympic Committee, being attached to the Ministry of Interior. As the reason for its inauguration was to partake in official competitions in place of the teams that had represented the Iraqi Police force up to that point (primarily Aliyat Al-Shorta and previously Madaris Al-Shorta), the sports club considers itself as a continuation of those two teams hence the recognition of 1932 as the club's year of foundation and the recognition of Al-Shorta as the continental finalist in 1971 by the Asian Football Confederation.
The PGD were strongly opposed to the IFA's new league system and decided to field a team of amateurs for Al-Shorta to compete in the first season in protest. After suffering heavy defeats in their first two games, talks between the IFA and the PGD resulted in the amateurs being replaced by players from two of the PGD's other teams, before Aliyat Al-Shorta's players returned for the 1975–76 season which led to an improved third place finish. Al-Shorta won the first two Arab Police Championships in 1976 and 1978, and earned their first Iraqi National League title in 1979–80, finishing ahead of rivals Al-Zawraa on goal difference under the leadership of former player Douglas Aziz. This qualified them for the inaugural Arab Club Champions Cup in 1981–82, and Al-Shorta became the first ever Arab champions with a 4–2 aggregate win over Al-Nejmeh in the final.
In 1983, Al-Shorta won the President's Gold Cup, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, by defeating the Malaysia national team 2–0 in the final. 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 they returned to the name Al-Shorta. Al-Shorta won the Arab Police Championship for the third and fourth times in 1985 and 1988 respectively, before achieving victory in the Saddam Qadisiya Championship in 1988 and the Great Victory Championship in 1996, which were both tournaments held between the four Baghdad Derby clubs. Al-Shorta played their first match at their new Al-Shorta Stadium on 23 December 1990, beating Al-Tijara 3–2. In the 1993–94 season, Al-Shorta striker Younis Abid Ali scored 36 league goals which remains an Iraqi record for most goals scored by a player in one league season.
There were three contenders for the 1997–98 Iraqi Premier League title going into the final day of the season; Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya were on top of the league with Al-Shorta in second and Al-Zawraa third. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya were playing Al-Zawraa at Al-Shaab Stadium at the same time as Al-Shorta were playing Al-Sulaikh at Al-Kashafa Stadium. Al-Shorta were 2–1 down to Al-Sulaikh before an 84th-minute goal from Mufeed Assem and a 93rd-minute penalty kick from league top scorer Mahmoud Majeed earned a dramatic 3–2 victory, which was enough to overtake Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (who had drawn 1–1 with Al-Zawraa) and achieve their second Premier League title and first for eighteen years. In the process, Al-Shorta broke the Iraqi records for most consecutive wins in a league season and most consecutive league games scored in. That season also saw them reach the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup Winners' Cup, earning wins over Al-Seeb and Bargh Shiraz before being eliminated in the quarter-final.
Al-Shorta reached the quarter-finals of the 1999–2000 Asian Club Championship and won the 2000 Baghdad Day Cup before making history by becoming the first club to win the Iraqi Elite Cup three times in a row, winning the trophy in 2000, 2001 and 2002. They also won their fifth Arab Police Championship and first Jerusalem International Championship titles in 2002, and were in the lead of the 2002–03 league competition before it was cancelled due to war. In April 2003, the club's former goalkeeper and captain Raad Hammoudi became Al-Shorta's president and he saved the club from bankruptcy after the Iraq War. Al-Shorta participated in the 2003 edition of the Arab Club Champions Cup and the 2004 and 2005 editions of the AFC Champions League but were knocked out in the group stage each time. In September 2005, they won the Cup for the Al-Aimma Bridge Martyrs that was held in support of the families that been affected by the Al-Aimma bridge stampede.
In the 2005–06 Iraqi Premier League, Al-Shorta finished top of their group in the first stage but were knocked out at the elite stage, and the same was repeated in the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons. After a lacklustre 2008–09 campaign, Al-Shorta almost reached the semi-finals in the 2009–10 season, but gave away a 2–0 lead versus Al-Najaf to draw 2–2 which saw them eliminated at the elite stage again. In the 2010–11 season, Al-Shorta found themselves in a relegation battle, only surviving the drop on goal difference thanks to a brace from Amjad Kalaf on the final day of the season against Al-Naft. The 2011–12 league returned to a double round-robin format and Al-Shorta achieved improved results under Basim Qasim's leadership until a run of six defeats in their final seven matches saw them drop down to seventh place. Midway through the campaign, Ayad Bunyan became Al-Shorta's president and the club began to experience a change of fortunes.
Al-Shorta returned to the top of Iraqi football in the 2012–13 season, first winning the Baghdad Cup and then securing their third Iraqi Premier League title with a final-day 3–0 victory over rivals Al-Talaba at Al-Shaab Stadium. Al-Shorta successfully defended the Premier League title for the first time in 2013–14 as Brazilian coach Lorival Santos became only the second foreign manager ever to win the competition. Al-Shorta also appeared in the 2014 AFC Champions League qualifiers, losing 1–0 to Al-Kuwait, and they were eliminated from the group stage and round of 16 at the 2014 and 2015 AFC Cups respectively. Al-Shorta won their fifth Premier League title and their third in the past seven seasons in 2018–19, led by Montenegrin coach Nebojša Jovović, equalling the Iraqi record for most consecutive league games unbeaten (39) in the process. Al-Shorta won the Iraqi Super Cup for the first time in 2019 with a penalty shootout win over Al-Zawraa, before reaching the quarter-finals of the 2019–20 Arab Club Champions Cup and being eliminated from the group stage of the 2020 AFC Champions League on goal difference.
Aliyat Al-Shorta occasionally wore the Iraqi Police badge on their shirts, which consisted of the words Shorta Al-Iraq in a star which was surrounded by laurel leaves. Al-Shorta began to wear a harp on their shirts in the 1992–93 season, after television presenter Majid Abdul-Haq coined the now-popular nickname Al-Qithara (The Harp) to refer to the club on his program Letter of the League by likening the team's attractive style of play to the beautiful tunes of a harp. In 2002, laurel leaves were added to surround the harp on the shirt, with the Olympic rings added underneath to signify Al-Shorta's status as a multi-sport club.
At the start of the 2005–06 season, Al-Shorta adopted a new crest which was blue with a green outline. A green harp featured in the centre with the club's year of foundation and the Iraq flag. This remained the logo for seven years until they changed to a circular white crest with a green outline in the 2012–13 season, which contained the same harp, laurel leaves and rings as before but with the addition of the club's name and year of foundation at the bottom. On 12 December 2013, before the start of 2014 AFC Champions League qualifying play-off, Al-Shorta announced the change to a new logo which was designed by Luay Abdul-Rahman, the artistic director of Al-Shorta's newspaper. The harp in the centre of the logo is gold rather than green, and gold is prevalent throughout the emblem. The club's foundation year and the Iraqi flag feature at the top and bottom respectively along with the club's name in English.
On 18 November 2020, as part of a ceremony to celebrate the club's 88th anniversary, the club revealed a brand new crest. It features Al-Shorta's traditional colours of green and purple, as well as the colour red to signify "challenge" and a gold outline to represent the success the club has had in winning trophies. A harp features on the right side of the emblem, while a ball features on the left to represent the club's origins as a football team in the 1930s. Above the ball is a star to commemorate the team's ascent to the final of the Asia's premier club tournament, now known as the AFC Champions League, in 1971 and their refusal to face an Israeli team. However, after a negative reception from supporters, the club decided that the logo will remain only as a proposal until the end of the 2020–21 season when a decision regarding the club's badge will be made.
During their time in the Iraq Central FA League, Aliyat Al-Shorta wore purple home kits, often with a white diagonal sash. After becoming a sports club in 1974, Al-Shorta mainly switched to using green home kits and white away kits, with purple becoming the third kit colour. However, since the 2016–17 season, Al-Shorta have worn purple as the away kit colour. In 2020, Al-Shorta launched its own clothing brand called Qithara to manufacture kits and other apparel for the club.
Al-Shorta's shirts have featured a number of different sponsors' logos over the years:
|2008||Asia Cell (on front)|
IraqCom (on back)
|2014–2015||Royal Arena Sport|
Ultras Green Harp is an ultras group that was formed in 2012 at the start of the 2012–13 season and has grown to become one of Iraq's largest fan groups. It is a self-financed group that travels to both home and away matches across Iraq, providing flags and banners for fans to wave during the game. Before kickoff, the Ultras Green Harp members often hold up a large banner which can vary depending on the opposition. They are known for setting off fireworks when Al-Shorta score a goal and using flares. During the match, they typically chant songs and use instruments such as drums and air horns to create a lively atmosphere.
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. The rivalry with Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya developed during the Iraq Central FA League era while the rivalries with Al-Zawraa and Al-Talaba were born after the foundation of the Iraqi Premier League. Of the three, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya are the most local to Al-Shorta, as their stadium is located only 500 metres away from Al-Shorta's on the opposite side of Falastin Street.
Al-Shorta Stadium was the name of Al-Shorta's old home ground, which held approximately 8,500 people. The white hall on the side of the field, called the Abid Kadhim Hall in honour of former player and manager Abid Kadhim, can 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. Former club manager Abdul-Qadir Zeinal helped build the stadium with other volunteers and it was opened for its first match on 23 December 1990. In 2008, the stands were painted green and white to match the club's colours. The stadium began to be demolished on 4 March 2014 to make way for Al-Shorta Sports City.
Al-Shorta Sports City StadiumEdit
Early in the 2012–13 season, Al-Shorta announced plans to build a sports complex called Al-Shorta Sports City, which will include a new all-seater stadium among other sports facilities. On 20 December 2013, the chairman of the construction company Nordic Sport announced the initiation of construction of Al-Shorta Sports City, and on 7 January 2015, AKG Engineering released a video showing what the sports complex should look like once construction is completed. The stadium, which will have a capacity of over 10,000, will have purple and green seats and the words 'Police Club' alongside the club's name in Arabic will be spelled out with white seats in the main stand, which will have a roof over it. Next to the stadium will be a training field with an athletics track. Also at Al-Shorta 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 facilities. Construction on the stadium has been suspended since December 2015.
Al-Shorta currently play their home matches at the historical national stadium, Al-Shaab Stadium, which is located in the same area as the club's old ground.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loanEdit
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Assistant manager:||Haitham Al-Shaboul|
|Assistant manager:||Hussein Abdul-Wahed|
|Fitness coach:||Dejan Tričković|
|Goalkeeping coach:||Emad Hashim|
|Administrative director:||Hashim Ridha|
The majority of Al-Shorta's managers in major tournaments throughout their history have been of Iraqi nationality. They have been managed by a total of eight different foreign coaches from seven countries (Palestine, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Montenegro and Serbia).
|National||Iraqi Premier League||5||1979–80, 1997–98, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2018–19||1978–79, 1980–81|
|Iraqi National League of Clubs and Institutions||0||–||1973–74|
|Iraq FA Cup||0||–||1977–78, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2001–02, 2002–03|
|Iraqi Elite Cup||3S||2000, 2001, 2002||1997|
|Iraqi Super Cup||1||2019||1998|
|Regional||Iraq Central FA League||6||1962–63, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1971–72||1957–58, 1960–61, 1964–65, 1970–71, 1972–73|
|Iraq Central FA Perseverance Cup||0||–||1963, 1965|
|Independent Baghdad Tournament||0||–||1973|
|Competition||Titles||Winning years||Runners-up||Third place||Fourth place|
|AFC Champions League||0||–||1971[Note]||–||–|
|Arab Club Champions Cup||1||1981–82||–||–||–|
- S shared record
- Arab Police Championship
- Winners (5): 1976, 1978, 1985, 1988, 2002
- Police Director General Cup
- Winners (2): 1965, 1972
- Republic Championship
- Winners (2): 1968, 1969
- Baghdad Cup
- Winners (1): 2013
- Cup for the Al-Aimma Bridge Martyrs
- Winners (1): 2005
- Jerusalem International Championship
- Winners (1): 2002
- Baghdad Day Cup
- Winners (1): 2000
- Great Victory Championship
- Winners (1): 1996
- Saddam Qadisiya Championship
- Winners (1): 1988
- President's Gold Cup
- Winners (1): 1983
- Alexandria International Summer Tournament
- Winners (1): 1967
- Police Cup Championship
- Winners (1): 1965
- Hilla Mutasarrif Cup
- Winners (1): 1957
- Al-Olympi Club Cup
- Winners (1): 1939
- Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya Cup
- Winners (1): 1939
- Taha Al-Hashimi Cup
- Winners (1): 1938
- First match: Al-Lasilki 1–1 Montakhab Al-Shorta, Prince Ghazi Cup, December 1932
- First Central FA League match: Al-Kuliya Al-Askariya Al-Malikiya 5–1 Montakhab Al-Shorta, 5 November 1948
- First FA Cup match: Montakhab Al-Shorta awd. (w/o) Kuliya Al-Huqooq, first round, January 1949
- First match in an AFC competition: Al-Shorta 3–2 Taj Tehran, Asian Champion Club Tournament preliminary round, 21 March 1971
- First National League of Clubs and Institutions match: Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2–5 Aliyat Al-Shorta, 11 October 1973
- First Central FA Cup match: Aliyat Al-Shorta 1–0 Al-Asha, round of 32, 26 February 1974
- First Premier League match: Al-Muwasalat 3–0 Al-Shorta, 4 October 1974
- First match in an UAFA competition: Al-Shorta 2–0 Al-Nejmeh, Arab Club Champions Cup final, 5 February 1982
- First match at Al-Shorta Stadium: Al-Shorta 3–2 Al-Tijara, Premier League, 23 December 1990
- First Elite Cup match: Al-Talaba 1–0 Al-Shorta, group stage, 2 September 1991
- Record win: 11–0 against Al-Samawa, FA Cup round of 32, 16 November 1998
- Record League win: 8–0 against Duhok, Premier League, 18 October 2002
- Record Elite Cup win: 7–1 against Salahaddin, group stage, 5 December 2000
- Record win in an AFC competition:
- Record win in an UAFA competition: 5–0 against FC Nouadhibou, Arab Club Champions Cup second round, 25 November 2019
- Most goals scored in one half of a win: 10, in a 10–1 win against Al-Bahri, FA Cup round of 16, 14 December 1998
- Record defeat: 0–11 against Al-Naqil, Premier League, 12 October 1974
- Record FA Cup defeat: 0–4 against Al-Zawraa, quarter-final, 1977–78
- Record Elite Cup defeat: 0–6 against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, group stage, February 1996
- Record defeat in an AFC competition: 0–4 against FK Köpetdag Aşgabat, Asian Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final, 13 February 1998
- Record defeat in an UAFA competition: 0–6 against Al-Shabab, Arab Club Champions Cup quarter-final, 23 December 2019
- Consecutive results
- Record consecutive League wins: 11, Premier League, from 13 March 1998 to 22 May 1998
- Record consecutive League matches scored in: 37, Premier League, from 13 October 1997 to 13 November 1998
- Record consecutive League defeats: 6, Premier League, from 15 July 2012 to 10 August 2012
- Record consecutive League matches without a defeat: 39, Premier League, from 21 May 2018 to 23 May 2019
- Highest attendance: 68,000, against Al-Zawraa at Al-Shaab Stadium, Premier League, 13 December 1991
- Youngest first-team player: Mohanad Ali, 13 years, 279 days (against Al-Talaba, Premier League, 26 March 2014)
- First international cap while an Al-Shorta player: Ali Karim, for Iraq in 1957
- Most international caps while an Al-Shorta player: Raad Hammoudi, 104 for Iraq
- First players to play at the World Cup: Raad Hammoudi (starter) and Basim Qasim (substitute), for Iraq against Paraguay on 4 June 1986
- Most players in an Iraq starting line-up: 7
- Most League goals in a season: Younis Abid Ali, 36 goals in the Premier League, 1993–94
- Most FA Cup goals in a season: Hashim Ridha, 14 goals, 1998–99
- Most goals in one League match: Ahmed Khudhair, 5 goals (against Al-Kut, Premier League, 2000–01)
- Most goals in one FA Cup match: Saeed Nouri, 5 goals (against Salahaddin, 16 May 1989)
- Most goals in AFC and UAFA competitions: 5
- First ever goalscorer: Abid Abtou (against Al-Lasilki, Prince Ghazi Cup, November 1932)
- First Premier League top scorer: Zahrawi Jaber (1976–77)
- Most Premier League top scorer awards: Hashim Ridha, 2 (1998–99 and 2001–02)
- First Elite Cup top scorer: Mufeed Assem (1996)
- First top scorer of an AFC competition: Ghanim Abdul-Hamid (Asian Champion Club Tournament, 1971)
- First top scorer of an UAFA competition: Ali Hussein Mahmoud (Arab Club Champions Cup, 1981–82)
- First foreign goalscorer: Innocent Awoa (against Al-Sinaa, Premier League, 20 October 2012)
- First foreign hat-trick scorer: Jean Michel N'Lend (against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Premier League, 18 November 2012)
- First goalkeeper to score: Raad Hammoudi (against Al-Samawa, Premier League, 1975–76)
- Fastest goalscorer: 9.504 seconds, Alaa Abdul-Zahra (against Naft Al-Junoob, Premier League, 21 October 2018)
Iraqi Premier League (1974–present) matches only.
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