Thursday 27 January 2022

Palestinian Football Association denounces FC Barcelona’s decision to play against Israel’s Beitar club in occupied Al-Quds

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) denounced the decision of the Spanish professional football club, Barcelona, to play a friendly match against Israel’s football club Beitar in the occupied city of Jerusalem, Al-Quds, on August 4th, calling on the Spanish club to reconsider the selection of the venue for the match.

PFA confirmed in a statement its respect to the right of football federations and clubs to play friendly matches with any clubs of their choice, under the umbrella of any federation, stressing that by playing the match in the occupied part of Jerusalem, FC Barcelona would have directly infringed the rights of the Palestinian Football Association, because East Al-Quds does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Football Association, to which the Beitar football Club belongs, WAFA reported.


PFA reiterated its respect for FC Barcelona's desire to play against any team of its choice; "we remember 2013, when the club, famous for its motto "More Than Just a Club", came on a tour that included both Palestine and Israel with an understandable message of peace for both of them. Today, the message seems unclear to millions of Palestinians, to millions of Arabs and the rest of the nations of the world, and those who believe in the need to take a firm stand against racism."


Beitar Club has never fielded any Muslim or Arab player. Two players from Bosnia and Chechnya who played for the club in the past had been the target of racist abuse by audiences, which forced them to leave the club.


A group of hardcore Beitar fans, known as La Familia, who travel with the team constantly to attend all its matches, is famous for its racist violence and chanting of anti-Arab and Muslim slogans during matches. It is directly linked to acts of vandalism, terrorism, and violence against the Palestinians.


"While we reaffirm our commitment not to interfere in the organization of friendly matches between football associations or clubs, we cannot fail to point out how disappointing the holding of this match will be for millions of Palestinians and Arabs and for the many people who still believe in football's basic principles of equality and non-discrimination, and believe that football is obligated to take a stand against racism."


PFA said it has received hundreds of objections whether from clubs or fans to the holding of this match, as well as calls to convey a message to FC Barcelona about how difficult it is to see a club that promotes the values of peace and equality while playing in occupied Al-Quds, in a stadium built on the ruins of the Palestinian village of al-Malha, whose residents were forcibly expelled and displaced in refugee camps. "For those people, FC Barcelona is playing on the graves of their ancestors," it said.



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