Middle East News

Israel club cancels friendly with Barcelona over Jerusalem

Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem Football has cancelled a friendly match against Barcelona after the Spanish club said it would not play the game in Jerusalem.

Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Sami Abu Shehadeh, said the Palestinian people’s vigilance prevented a great propaganda victory for the racist Beitar Jerusalem FC, explaining that the decision came after extensive Arab and Palestinian pressure in cooperation with the Barcelona fans earlier this month.

Abu Shehadeh said several messages had been sent to the club’s management and President Joan Laporta to cancel the friendly match over the Israeli team’s racist chants and views against Arabs and Palestinians.

‘According to international law, Jerusalem is a divided city and its eastern part is considered occupied Palestinian land, which gives the Palestinian Football Association jurisdiction over any football activities that take place in this part.’ Palestinian Football Association Chairman Jibril Rajoub said.

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The match was due to be played on 4 August in the Malha District, the site of a Palestinian village that was ethnically cleansed by Zionist paramilitaries in the run-up to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

“Beitar Jerusalem must pay the price for its fans’ racism as well as racist and anti-Arab chants, which wish Arabs death and even call for the burning of Arab cities and villages,” Abu Shehadeh added.

After the game was cancelled, Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg wrote on Facebook: “After I got the contract to sign and was exposed to the unequivocal demand that the game not take place in the capital, Jerusalem, and a few other demands that I did not like, I slept with a heavy heart, thought a lot and decided that first of all I am a proud Jew and Israeli.”

“If you want to play against Beitar Jerusalem you need to do it in Jerusalem,” he added.

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