A country that for more than 70 years maintained an amateur football (soccer) league is today hosting the biggest sporting event in the world, writes Javier Szlifman.
Palestinians are celebrating the news that Argentina – and its star Lionel Messi – will not be playing the “friendly” football match that had been set for Jerusalem in the coming days.
The cancellation is a huge blow to Israel and came after an intense campaign by Palestinians and their supporters, especially in Latin America and the Spanish state, urging Argentina not to help Israel whitewash its most recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Gaza.
Sir Alex Ferguson was deeply affronted by the Manchester United Football Club supporters who got stroppy about the proposed takeover of the huge English Premier League club he then managed by the US corporate raider, Malcolm Glazer, in 2004.
“They carried on to the degree where they actually thought they should have a say in the running of the football club,” exclaimed the outraged manager.
Ferguson got to the core of things by starkly asking just whose club it is.
Eleven women from Britain and Germany travelled to the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank in October on a tour of friendship, solidarity and football.
The promise of participants in the “Freedom Through Football” tour was to share with the wider world the truth of life in Palestine. In particular, it was to highlight the story of women who play football in a country where football for women is far from a cultural norm.
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At this stage of the 2017 English Premier League (EPL) season, it looks like one of the two Manchester teams will win the championship — and with barely a Mancunian between them. Both Manchester United and Manchester City have overseas owners, overseas managers and overseas-dominated player lists.
FIFA, the governing body of world football (soccer), has capitulated once more to intense pressure from the Israeli government. It has removed from the agenda of its upcoming congress the issue of teams from Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land playing in Israel’s national league.
Fans of Glasgow’s Celtic football club showed their support for more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, with large banners and Palestinian flags at Celtic’s May 6 football (soccer) match against fellow Scottish side St Johnstone FC.
Members of Celtic’s “ultras” fan group, the Green Brigade, along with Celtic Fans for Palestine, lifted a huge Palestinian flag, as well as large banners with the slogans “Freedom and Dignity” and “Hungering for Justice”.
Calls are mounting on FIFA to require Israel’s national league to exclude teams from West Bank settlements or face suspension from the governing body of world football (soccer).
But there are warning signs FIFA may be succumbing to intense pressure to once again give Israel a pass to continue violating Palestinian rights with impunity.
The Football Federation of Australia (FFA), which governs football (soccer) in Australia, has contributed just $10,000 to Indigenous football this year — slashing its annual funding in half from last year, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed on March 31.
The situation for Palestinian and Arab football (soccer) players in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has, for some time, been dire.
On one side of Israel’s Apartheid Wall, within the formal borders of Israel, segregated youth teams, racist abuse, and heckling — including charming chants such as “Death to the Arabs” — are frequent. On the other, in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, checkpoint detention, jailings, and the bombing of stadiums have become regular features of what is supposed to be the people’s game.
Given the powerful role that football plays as a point of community cohesion in the West Bank and Gaza, this everyday violence feels like a full-frontal attack on civil society, normalcy and hope.