Historic football victory for Palestine

1 Jun

414429_heroa-580x402Ashraf Al Fawaghra, Coach Jamal Mahmoud, Murad Said (Photo: AFC)

Historic football victory provides another global stage for Palestine

By Annie Robbins, Mondoweisss, 31 May 2014

Congratulations Palestine

Palestinians erupted in spontaneous jubilation yesterday as their state’s national football team scored a huge victory winning the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup final in the Maldives, qualifying them for Asia Cup 2015, Asia’s biggest football tournament, to be hosted next year in Australia.

The win followed 5 matches in which Palestine’s team played a “clean sheet,” staving off the competition without conceding a single goal during the tournament.

This is the first time Palestine’s national team has qualified for a major international tournament since the establishment of the Palestine Football Federation in 1928, so the victory holds huge significance for Palestine and for Palestinians around the world.

Bo6ZCLpCMAEVkc4-580x380Palestinians celebrate on the streets of Ramallah, Palestine (photo: Getty Images)

On Thursday the New York Times quoted the team’s coach Jamal Mahmoud:

“All the people in Palestine will watch and will be happy if we win…the world will see the Palestinian people. This is very important.”

In victory Mahmoud told The National  “advancing to the continental championship would be a platform for the country“:

“This is very important to all Palestine. We want to send a message to the world that we want sports and peace in Palestine,” Mahmoud said. “We can do more things if we have peace in Palestine. It is very important for us to go to the Asian Cup.”

Palestine’s historic qualification was sealed by defeating the Philippines 1-0 after Ashraf Al Fawaghra’s scored a goal in what commentators called a “sublime” “stunning ” free-kick just a minute before the hour mark. Palestine’s champion team also swept the individual awards following the tournament as midfielder Murad Said was named Most Valuable Player  and Al Fawaghra took away the top scorer accolade.

1920273_619891638123709_2616267190026560731_n-580x340Fans who assembled to watch the match in the port of Gaza (photo: Alaa Shamaly)

Mahmoud hailed the achievement as historic and dedicated the victory to Jibril Al-Rajoub, Chairman of the Palestine Football Association. Rajoub told AFP:

“This is the best day ever in Palestine football history and it comes at a great time, as we fight to get the Palestine sports rights with FIFA and IOC”. 

On behalf of Palestine, Rajoub will be seeking sanctions against Israel when FIFA’s 64th Congress meets in San Paulo, Brazil on June 9-10. Palestinian superstar Mohammed Assaf is performing at the congress’ opening ceremony on June 10th.

A reader writes in:

‘The stars aligned for Palestine. First, the Pope spontaneously stopped his Popemobile and prayed at the Israeli Apartheid wall, giving the Palestinians a decisive PR victory that’s loaded with political symbolism. Then several days later, a second euphoria for Palestine erupted when the Palestinian Soccer team won….’

This was a great week for Palestine.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area.

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