The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
On Saturday June 16 at Soundview playfield in North Seattle a special tournament will be held to benefit local soccer player and fan Edin Džeko. goalWA.net spoke with one of the organizers and learned about this special cause and the man at the center of the mission.
by David Falk
Dino Silajdžić contacted goalWA.net via Facebook the other day. He had a compelling story to share. “My amateur team, FK Ljiljan Seattle (We play in the SCASA leagues) is hosting a humanitarian tournament for one of our past players, Edin Dzeko. The tournament itself will be in a 5v5 format + goalies. Teams can be composed of up to 10 players, and entrance into the tournament will be $120.”
I wanted to know more. First off, let’s clear this up. We are NOT talking about this Edin Džeko. “Edin is a native of Bosnia, coming to the US as a refugee fifteen years ago,” Dino told me. “He lived in Everett since coming to the United States. He played on our team since its creation in 2005, and has played on many other teams in the county as well. To sum it up, he was falsely accused of committing crimes in Bosnia while he was only 21 years old.”
“Instead of fighting the extradition to Bosnia, he willingly left to defend his name. Since then the Bosnian community of Washington state has been supporting him, with fundraisers, concerts, and now a soccer tournament,” Dino told me. You can read this Seattle Times story from last year to learn more. The accusations are difficult reading.
“We have been supporting his wife, and two children with their mortgage, food, etc. We would love to have you support our event, either by sharing it, attending it, spreading the word. Either way, this is a soccer tournament, and we would love to have anyone participate.”
After years as a free man in America, Edin’s world changed at the end of 2011. “He was arrested here because they (Bosnian officials) asked for his extradition,” Dino explained. “Instead of drawing out the process, and fighting it, he willingly left in December. He’s currently going through his trial, but it includes a lot of other people.”
Dino and the Bosnian community tell of how different things are in their former homeland. “To explain it a little better, there was a commander in Edin’s unit that was corrupt, committed crimes, etc. He paid off people under him to take the fall, or accuse others, so he would be able to go free. (In a country like Bosnia, this is a normal occurrence). Since they have no evidence against Edin, and no reliable witnesses, he will most likely be let free.”
In the meantime, Edin’s family remains in Seattle, needing the emotional and financial support of the community. “It just takes forever to finish (a trial in Bosnia), for example to bring in a new piece of evidence, the process takes at least a week. Since day one, he has pleaded innocent, and we have been behind him. For example, his extradition hearing here in Seattle had to be moved to the biggest courtroom because of the large number of people that came out in support.”