Palestinians criticize FC Barcelona over possible match with Israeli team
Spain's elite soccer club has not confirmed it will play the Israeli team Beitar Jerusalem.
Photo by Oliver Weiken-Pool/Getty Images
Al-Monitor Staff
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
July 13, 2021
A top European soccer team is under fire for reportedly planning to play an Israeli team, though the game is not confirmed.
On Friday, a group of Palestinian soccer teams published an open letter to FC Barcelona urging the club to cancel a soccer match against Beitar Jerusalem, according to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The purported international friendly is set to take place Aug. 4 in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium. The Palestinian teams said the event is an effort to distract from Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians.
“As your colleagues, and as athletes who share a passion for sports and fair play, we don’t want to see your passion and name being abused by anyone, especially not by apartheid Israel’s propaganda in its desperate attempt to sports-wash the state’s continuous violations of international law and crimes against our Palestinian people,” the teams said, according to BDS. 
BDS supports a variety of boycotts against Israel and Israelis, including in the cultural sphere, in opposition to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The statement specifically cited the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where local Arabs are engaged in a property dispute with a group of Jews. 
Beitar Jerusalem is notorious for having nationalists and anti-Arab racists among its fan base. The team has tried to clean up its image recently. Last year, an Emirati investor purchased a 50% stake in the club, which was praised by some fans. 
FC Barcelona is based in the eponymous city in the autonomous Catalonia region of Spain. The team and its star Lionel Messi are tremendously popular in the Middle East, and all over the world. 
Arab-Israeli parliamentarian Sami Abou Shahadeh also wrote to FC Barcelona on Thursday asking it to cancel the game. 
However, on Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency reported that it received a letter from FC Barcelona saying the club has not confirmed any match with Beitar.
A Palestinian soccer body had also protested the purported match, due to Beitar Jerusalem’s stadium being in the Malha neighborhood of Jerusalem, according to WAFA. The neighborhood was inhabited by Arabs before the 1948 Israel-Palestine war, but the community left during the conflict. Some Israeli scholars say they fled, while some Palestinians maintain they were expelled. 
FC Barcelona representatives did not immediately respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment. 
FC Barcelona is not new to the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team visited Israel and the Palestinian territory the West Bank in 2013 for a peace-focused tour. 
Lebanon charges 68 in relation to shooting at Hezbollah protest
Al-Monitor Staff | News Brief | Oct 26, 2021
Chinese foreign minister in Qatar for talks with the Taliban
Al-Monitor Staff | News Brief | Oct 26, 2021
US freezes aid to Sudan in response to military takeover
Al-Monitor Staff | Sudan | Oct 25, 2021
Subscribe to Our Newsletters
Sign Me Up!
Scientists reconstruct facial features of 2,000-year-old mummies
Hagar Hosny | Egypt | Oct 6, 2021
Turkey requests to buy 40 US F-16 fighter planes
Al-Monitor Staff | News Brief | Oct 8, 2021
Israel still fears US approach to Iran
Ben Caspit | Israel | Oct 8, 2021
Intel: US lifts Iran-related sanctions, says no connection to nuclear deal   
Elizabeth Hagedorn | Iran | Oct 8, 2021
Palestinian video game strikes Israel’s nerve
Mai Abu Hasaneen | Palestine | Oct 10, 2021
Netflix features fresh collection of Palestinian movies
Mai Abu Hasaneen | Palestine | Oct 24, 2021
Palestinian olive season begins with settler attacks, arson
Daoud Kuttab | Palestine | Oct 23, 2021
Palestinian Islamic Jihad announces end to hunger strike
Al-Monitor Staff | Israel | Oct 22, 2021
Fatwa banning trade of flour for bread stirs anger in Gaza
Mervat Ouf | Palestine | Oct 22, 2021
World not trusting Israel’s ‘flimsy’ terrorist claims against Palestinian NGOs, says Daoud Kuttab
Military correspondent Alon Ben David: Israel cannot destroy Iranian nuclear know-how 
US-Turkish relations unlikely to get better under Erdogan, says veteran Turkey analyst Alan Makovsky
Geopolitical expert Eyal Zisser: A Lebanese civil war won’t really threaten Israel 
Khamenei may still prefer a nuclear deal over a nuclear weapon, says Ken Pollack
© 2021 Al-Monitor, LLC. All rights reserved.