Wednesday 07 December 2022

Algerian footballer refuses to play against Israeli team in occupied Palestine

Algerian football player Ahmed Touba has not accompanied his team, İstanbul Başakşehir, on a trip to the occupied territories to face Israel’s Maccabi Netanya FC in a European competition.

Maccabi hosted the Turkish team in Netanya in the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League on Thursday.


Touba’s refusal to play against the Israeli opponent has been welcomed by Palestinian activists, Palestinian media outlets reported.


The 24-year-old left winger also avoided to play against the Israeli team in the first leg of the match in Istanbul on July 21.


Touba was born in France and raised in Belgium but has opted to play for the Algerian National Team as he made his debut in a 4-1 win against Mauritania in June 2021.


This is not the first time that Algerian athletes refuse to encounter Israeli rivals as the African nation is among the staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause.


Back in July 2021, Algerian judo practitioner Fethi Nourine withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics after the draw set him on course for a possible showdown against an Israeli opponent.


Later, in an interview with an Algerian TV channel, he voiced his support for Palestinians. “We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this,” he said. “My position is consistent on the Palestinian issue, and I reject normalization, and if it cost me that absence from the Olympic Games, God will compensate.”


In recent years, an increasing number of Arab athletes have avoided facing Israeli opponents in international competitions in support of the Palestinian cause.


They view the participation of Israeli athletes in sports events as a scheme to help the Tel Aviv regime gradually normalize its relations with Muslim and Arab nations despite its brutal occupation of Palestine and its relentless crimes against Palestinians.


In April, the Libyan national team refused to face Israeli opponents at the World Fencing Championships 2022 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and in opposition to normalization agreements between the occupying regime and a few Arab countries.


Back in January, Kuwait’s tennis player Muhammad al-Awadi also withdrew from an international tennis tournament in the UAE after he was told that he was going to face a representative from the Israeli regime.


Under US-brokered agreements, Israel managed to normalize its ties with the governments of the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco in 2020.


The normalization deals sparked widespread protests in those countries, laying bare the overwhelming divide between the rulers and the people.


The normalization deals have also been condemned by all Palestinians and their supporters worldwide as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.


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