Fans of Lebanon cheer for their team during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Qatar in Doha, November 14, 2012..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A former German soccer player and biologist, Robert Jaspert, has been hired as the new head coach of the Hezbollah-backed Lebanese football team Al-Ahed.
The Rheinische Post reported on Saturday that Jaspert, who worked for Al-Ahed ten years ago, is back this time as the team's top coach. The RP wrote that "Al-Ahed is supported by Hezbollah."
The US, Canada, Israel, the Arab League and the Netherlands classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The EU and Germany designated Hezbollah's so-called military wing a terrorist entity
It is unclear if direct Hezbollah funds are to pay for Jaspert's salary.
Al Ahed vs Al Muharraq (AFC Cup 2016: Quarter-final first-leg). (YouTube/The AFC Hub)
According to the RP
, Jaspert agreed to first work for Al-Ahed in 2007-- a year after the Second Lebanon War fought between Israel and Hezbollah. He told the RP
that "when my team was traveling on the bus to the match, and listened to old fighting songs of Hezbollah, that was motivation for the team. I accepted that."
He said an attack killed two players of Al-Ahed's rival team Nejmeh SC. After one season, Jaspert left Lebanon.
In 2016, Jaspert returned to work for Al-Ahed. He stayed for a season and then departed to coach in Bahrain.
Jaspert previously worked for the German research organization Robert Koch Institute as a molecular biologist. Germany's domestic intelligence agency reported that as of 2017, there are 950 active Hezbollah members in the country.