Palestine and the story of its admission to FIFA

Picture of Mahmoud Abbas, Joseph Blatter and Jibril Rajoub (Abbas Momani/AFP)

racist from the beginning

After the first migration of Jews to Palestine; Zionism sought to use sports for the benefit of the Zionist project, to train Jewish youth for the construction of an alleged homeland. This was helped by the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, by which Britain gave the Jews the right to establish their national home on the soil of Palestine.

in 1925; In order to organize the work and involve the Jewish clubs that started to emerge, the Jews founded an organization that dealt with the game of football, and which tried to join the International Football Association; FIFA, at that time, but its attempts were unsuccessful, because it is a Jewish organization; Maccabiah, did not represent Jews and Arabs together, that was the main reason for refusing to join FIFA.

in 1928; The Palestinian Football Association was founded by Arabs and Jews, including Arabs, to meet the request of the International Federation. FIFA, with the presence of representatives of the population on the field, Arabs and Jews. then in 1929; The Palestinian Football Association joined FIFA, but the Jews monopolized the affairs of the association and marginalized the role of the Arab delegates in it.

result; In 1931, the Arabs founded the Palestine-Arab Football Association, which called for a boycott of Jewish teams and organized many activities with purely Arab participation.

The occupation has been trying to erase our national identity for a hundred years, but our sports sector has finally won

The Palestinian Arab Federation was absent from the scene after the 1936 revolution, particularly after the arrest of its members in sports clubs by the British Mandate government, based on their militant role in the revolution. Many Arab clubs were founded in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Gaza, Hebron, then in 1944 the Palestinian Arab Federation was re-established, which lasted until the Nakba in 1948.

As for the Palestine Football Association; The Jew, which featured Jewish players with a number of British soldiers; Those who served in the British Army during the Mandate of Palestine, in the 1934 and 1938 World Cup qualifiers, using the name Palestine, when the national team played; Without a single Arab player, against the Egyptian national team, in the pre-qualifications for the World Cup, Egypt was then under British protection.

The first Palestinian attempt to join FIFA

The first Palestinian attempt to join FIFA was in Luxembourg in 1946, but FIFA rejected the Palestinian request, with the Jewish delegate claiming that the Palestine Football Association had previously accepted, including a Jewish majority and a number of Arab clubs; It does not exceed five clubs, bearing in mind that the documents of the time confirm the existence of more than fifty Arab-Palestinian clubs.

FIFA rejected another request from the Arabs, arguing that consent to the existence of two confederations in one country is not possible, refusing to accept part of an independent member state, as it is against FIFA rules.

Nevertheless, Palestinian Arabs participated in many Arab tournaments, in Alexandria in 1953, Syria in 1956, Lebanon in 1958, and players from the Palestinian diaspora participated.

After the annexation of the West Bank to Jordan, some Palestinian teams participated in the Jordanian League, such as the Hebron Youth Club and the Staff Club from Jerusalem, while Gaza was under Egyptian administration.

occupation of the rest of Palestine

The activity of the sports movement ceased after the Israeli aggression in 1967, after its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, then in 1971 the Palestinian Football Association was re-established outside Palestine, and some clubs began to return to the forefront in the occupied interior, in the areas of Jerusalem , Nablus, Jericho, Hebron and Gaza, and many clubs were held. From the meetings in order to organize sports work, since the Palestinian clubs met each other in various stadiums that were available at that time, such as the Bishop’s School stadium in Jerusalem , Al-Hussein in Hebron, Al-Yarmouk in Gaza and Al-Balada in Jericho.

in 1980; The Association of West Bank Clubs was founded, and also in Gaza, two associations supervised many championships until the first intifada in 1987, when sports activities stopped completely.
During the first intifada, a team was formed abroad from diaspora athletes; The national team of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait participated in a sports tour that included France, Italy and Spain, during which football matches were held with friends of the Palestinian people, which is proof of the awareness and ability of the sports movement to serve the cause of its people.

Sports activities have returned to the stadiums of the West Bank and Gaza. After a four-year break, through the establishment of the Championship of Popular Neighborhoods, this situation continued until the Oslo Accords in 1993. The number of clubs in that period was close to 350 clubs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Clubs turned into strongholds Resisting the occupation.Thousands of martyrs, prisoners and wounded, the sports movement recorded a notable presence in the activities of the uprising.

A new attempt to enter FIFA

in November 1993; The Palestinian Football Association asked FIFA to accept its association with the International Federation, along with the recognition of the Palestinian Olympic Committee’s internal law by the International Olympic Committee.
in 1994; The Ministry of Youth and Sports was established within the Palestinian National Self-Government, headed by Dr. Azmi Al-Shuaibi, the Ministry collaborated with the Olympic Committee to establish sports associations, including the Football Association. in September 1995; The Palestinian Football Association was granted provisional membership by FIFA, and in July 1996 the provisional membership was ratified in Zurich.

June 8, 1998, during the fifty-first (FIFA) Congress; Held in Paris, Palestine was accepted as a full member of the FIFA family, starring the late Prince Faisal bin Fahd; The head of Saudi Youth Welfare played an active role in the acceptance of the Palestinian Federation into the FIFA family, through his frequent meetings with Mr. João Havelange; President of FIFA, and through his financial and moral support, which did not stop until his death, and Saudi support was embodied through FIFA later, by financing the construction of the Martyr Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium in the Al-Ram suburb of Jerusalem. .

Palestine won the bronze medal for the first time in a football competition within the framework of the Arab League in Jordan in 1999, and Palestine has participated in the finals of the Asian Nations several times in the past decade. Some of them tried to organize a soccer match that brought together the national teams of Palestine and Israel, in the so-called sports normalization, but the Palestinian side absolutely rejected those attempts.

It was the most beautiful moment of my life, as described by George Ghattas. A member of the Palestinian delegation at the FIFA Congress meetings in the French capital, Paris, in 1998. His feelings when he announced the acceptance of Palestine as a full member at the FIFA General Assembly session.

adds the diver; The vice-president of the Palestinian Football Association at the time, who followed the sports movement for more than six decades: “The Palestinian delegation was overwhelmed with great feelings, with warm applause from representatives of national associations from various countries around the world. ” When the vote was unanimously confirmed by the delegates of all countries, including the representative of the occupying power, who initially found himself alone, he was forced to humbly agree.

The Palestinian delegation consisted of Major General Ahmed Al-Afifi; The president of the Palestine Football Association, who was a player, administrator and coach with diaspora teams, and his deputy, George Ghattas, one of the founders of the West Bank Club Association and a former member of the Federation for more than one session, and the late Issa Daher, a member of the International Relations Committee Federation.

A similar scenario with the Olympic Committee

The Palestinian Olympic Committee was founded in 1933, and joined the International Olympic Committee at the session in Athens in 1934. In 1948, the name was changed from the Palestinian Olympic Committee to the Israeli Olympic Committee, which was adopted by the International Olympic Committee in 1951.

The Palestinian Olympic Committee was re-formed in the Diaspora in 1979 and attempted to participate in the Games in Los Angeles and Moscow. Following the Oslo Accords in 1993, the application for membership was resubmitted and approved by the governing body of the International Olympic Committee; In the French city of Monaco, the Palestinian Olympic Committee was temporarily recognized until the completion of its structures and institutions, in order to comply with the principles and goals of the Olympic system.

When Palestine participated in the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, it was an unforgettable moment for the members of the delegation, especially for the runner Majed Abu Maraheel, who carried the Palestinian flag in the opening parade. Palestine also participated in Sydney. Tournaments in 2000 and Athens in 2004, then in Beijing and London and what followed.


The occupation has been trying to erase our national identity for a hundred years, but our sports sector has finally triumphed, after half a century of attempts to kick us out of FIFA. The most important sports forum, thanks to the determination and will of our people in all places of existence, which is embodied on the field through our national teams in the qualifiers for the World Cup and Asia, this victory opens up prospects for the inevitability of victory over this entity in other fields.

let our men return; clinging to the embers and anchored in his homeland until Judgment Day, to resist the Israeli occupation; With the various means available, until its demise from Palestine, all of Palestine, we in Palestine do not lack the will to achieve this, because tomorrow we will soon see it, God willing.

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