Palestinian Football Teams Send Solidarity to Indonesia, Urge Argentina Not To Host U-20 World Cup
Palestinian teams salute the people of Indonesia for refusing apartheid Israel’s sportswashing and FIFA's double standards and hypocrisy. They urge Argentina not to step in as host of FIFA’s U20 Men’s World Cup.
We, the undersigned Palestinian football teams, salute the Indonesian people, who stood against apartheid Israel’s participation in FIFA’s U20 Men’s World Cup. We commend them for their principled solidarity. We also salute the governors of Bali and Central Java for their position that denied apartheid Israel the chance to sportswash its crimes using our beloved sport, football. Your voices inspire us to keep playing and struggling for freedom and justice.
We condemn FIFA’s decision to strip Indonesia of the right to host this tournament, denying your athletes this important opportunity. But more importantly, we acknowledge the heavy price that you had to pay, a price that many Arab and international athletes and teams have had to pay and still do for their principled positions. We call on the Argentinian Football Association and all other football associations around the globe to reject FIFA’s hypocrisy and to stand with Indonesia, on the right side of history. We urge them not to host FIFA’s U20 Men’s World Cup.
FIFA, only days after Russia’s war on Ukraine, rushed to sanction Russian sports associations and athletes, yet it refuses to hold Israel accountable and silences those who dare to speak out against its decades-old and ongoing crimes. FIFA won’t even act against the clear violations by Israel of its own statutes, going so far as to shield Israel from accountability. Under Western hegemony, FIFA and other international sporting bodies - the self-declared guardians of sports and morals - will continue to apply their double standards unless we stand up to them together. If they succeed in silencing us today, their repression will spread to silence all of our struggles for a more just, fair, egalitarian and peaceful world.
Our players are paying the heaviest price of all. With their careers, blood, and lives. Last year, Israeli soldiers shot and killed our beloved star player in Thaqafi Tulkarm Ahmad Daraghmeh (23 years old) who had dreamed of representing Palestine internationally. Ahmad was passionate, dedicated, and had great dreams that were shattered by an Israeli sniper’s bullet. Sadly, Ahmad’s case is not unique. In just the past couple of years, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed 16-year-old Saeed Odeh, 19-year-old Mohammad Ghneim, 18-year-old Thaer Yazouri, and 14-year old Zaid Ghneim.
Israeli snipers and bullets have ended the careers of tens of Palestinian athletes, such as 23-year-old Mohammed Khalil from Gaza who was shot in both knees. In Gaza, there are many teams made up of amputees who have lost limbs to the bullets and military assaults of Israeli occupation forces. Our stadiums and fields are destroyed by their bombs. Our players are arrested and forbidden from their right to travel. Palestinian league champion teams can only dream about playing in the Palestine Cup, as they are forbidden from traveling within the occupied Palestinian territory for the final match.
Armed Israeli soldiers even raid our pitches and fire tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets during matches. Just last week, Israeli forces raided Faisal Al Husseini stadium near occupied Jerusalem. Israel’s attack caused the Abu Ammar Cup to be canceled. This is not a first, indeed this same stadium and others are continuously raided by Israeli occupation forces. One of those raids even targeted a children’s team training session. It is these attacks on Palestinian sports and athletes that FIFA is protecting by shielding apartheid Israel from accountability.
The Indonesian people's demonstrations and rejection of apartheid Israel’s team were against all of that injustice and hypocrisy. People have all the right to refuse to lend their country’s stadiums to sportswashing crimes against innocent athletes. People also have the right to refuse to normalize the Israeli regime that is known for its unmasked Islamophobia, colonial violence and apartheid brutality. All of this was manifested over the past two nights as apartheid Israel’s occupation forces stormed Al Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, violently beating up and electrocuting Palestinian worshipers. Hundreds were injured, while Israeli forces prevented medical personnel from treating the victims. Israeli forces also detained around 500 Palestinian. Most detainees were released conditioned on a ban from Al Aqsa mosque.
To put an end to Israel’s crimes and international sporting bodies’ hypocrisy, we need to stand firm and stand together. Especially today, as Palestinians are facing the most far-right, racist and fundamentalist Israeli government ever, escalating Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid. What Palestinians have been saying for decades, that Israel is an apartheid regime, was echoed recently by international human rights organizations like Amnesty International.
Our hearts that hold our teammates’ beloved memories and that refuse to give their stories up salute the people of Indonesia for their stand. We urge the Argentinian Football Association not to assist FIFA in its continued hypocritical business-as-usual of shielding apartheid Israel and sanctioning Indonesia and its athletes.
Palestine Amputee Football Association