March 12, 2011


Playing for pride: the Palestinian football team kick off at home: Hope that first competitive international in West Bank can pave way for statehood (James Corbett, 3/09/11,

Forty-nine years after the Palestinian FA's formation and 13 since it was formally recognised by Fifa, this game was the first competitive international match ever played on Palestinian soil. Before the kickoff the players knelt and kissed the pitch, venerating the soil on which they were finally allowed to play.

With big screens catering for 10,000 hopeful fans outside, 17,000 crammed into the Faisal al-Husseini stadium in Ram, north of Jerusalem, which four years ago was used as a parking lot for Israeli tanks during its campaign of West Bank incursions. Just 100m from the stadium gates lies the West Bank barrier, a reminder of the tensions that rupture the occupied territories.

Jibril Rajoub, president of the Palestinian FA, said: "For us it is a historic event and we are committed to bringing it a humanitarian dimension." Rajoub, a member of the Fatah central committee and seen as a potential future president, also heads Palestine's national Olympic committee. He recognises the importance of sport as a symbol of statehood.

"We cannot exclude ourselves from the political aspect of this event. We are looking to expose Palestine as a cause to the world through the ethics and values of sport," he said. "Sport can pave the way to statehood for Palestine."

The Palestinian prime minister, Salman Fayyad, welcomed the game. "It is an important symbol," he said. "The national football team is a symbol of its country. For us Palestinians this is of enormous significance."
Any people that has a national team is a nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2011 8:32 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus