200 Palestinian Teams to FC Barcelona: Do not sports-wash Israeli apartheid!

Palestinian clubs call on FC Barcelona to cancel "friendly" match with racist club Beitar Jerusalem to be played just a few kilometers away from where Palestinians are resisting Israel's forced expulsions, home demolitions and violent repression in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.    

An open letter from 207 Palestinian sports clubs to FC Barcelona

We, the undersigned Palestinian sports clubs, write to urge you to cancel your match against Beitar Jerusalem, scheduled to take place on the 4th of August 2021 at Teddy Stadium.

Teddy Stadium is just around the corner from the Palestinian neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem where Israel is carrying out forced expulsions, home demolitions, violent repression of peaceful protests and mass arrests against Palestinians. Teddy Stadium itself was built over the stolen land of the Palestinian village Al Maliha, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948. Would you want to play a ‘friendly’ match while Palestinians are being subjected to colonial and apartheid violence and dispossession in the background?

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 Israeli-defined “Jerusalem municipality,” which will host the match, is actively involved in the illegal gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, including through home demolitions and forced expulsions as a matter of policy. Photo-ops in Jerusalem with Barcelona players are being arranged in order to use the team’s international standing to reinforce Israel's illegal claim of sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem as a whole.

In the month of May alone, Israeli soldiers killed two promising football players, 16-year-old Said Odeh of the Balata FC in the occupied West Bank and Muath Nabil Al-Zaanin of Beit Hanoun FC in Gaza. Israel has ended the careers of dozens of Palestinian athletes. Israel restricts our freedom of movement, meaning we are not free to travel to train or to play against our Palestinian counterparts. It also means that our chances of travelling to play against other regional or international teams are very limited.

Do you know that the team you are scheduled to play against, Beitar Jerusalem, is deeply racist and has a fan club known for its fascist anti-Arab and Islamophobic slogans? Fans of the club, known as ‘La Familia,’ regularly chant “death to Arabs.” They have also called for a Christian player from Nigeria to change his name because it sounded “too Muslim,” and set fire to the club’s offices after it signed two Muslim players from Chechnya. As the New York Times reports, some Beitar Jerusalem fans even raise the slogan “Beitar pure forever,” which, the Times says, “reminded many here of Nazi Germany’s purging of Jews from athletics in 1933 and prompted statewide discussion about racism on and off the field.” In mid-May, as Israeli right-wing fascist thugs organized lynch mobs against Palestinians, a La Familia group chat called to “break into [Palestinian] houses and stab them! Start knocking on doors one by one.”

This racism is not limited to football, but institutionalized in Israel, which prominent international and Israeli human rights organizations have very recently described as an apartheid regime. Israel’s apartheid regime, and all its components, including football, are deeply complicit in international law violations. The Israel Football Association (IFA) refuses to exclude illegal settlement teams it includes in its leagues, while it continues to defend these teams against any sanctions within international bodies.

As they noted in their letter to you, the Palestinian Football Association has received hundreds of complaints from clubs and fans against this match.

With Israel’s latest assault on our people, especially in the besieged Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, we have seen waves of meaningful solidarity from all over the world, especially in sports, with unprecedented numbers of active players standing up for Palestinian rights. In addition, tens of thousands of artists, musicians and academics have signed letters supporting the right of palestinians for freedom and justice, they have also pledged not to undermine the Palestinian struggle and not to whitewash Israeli apartheid.

In addition to the match with Beitar Jerusalem, we urge FC Barcelona to cancel Barça, The Exhibition to be held in Tel Aviv from July through August, and to withdraw the Barça Legends from the Clásico “peace” match scheduled for July 20.

In 2018, when Argentina cancelled its friendly with Israel, their striker Gonzalo Higuain said that they did the right thing. Today, we ask you to do the right thing too. Please cancel these sports-washing matches and exhibitions.

Signed (207):

Ahli Qalqelya
Islami Qalqelya 
Azzoun Youth Club 
Jayyous Sport Club
Jeinsafout Youth Club
Kufr-Thilth Sport Club
Immatain Youth Sport Club
Habla Sport Club
Nabi Ilyas Youth Club
Kufr-Qaddum Sport Club
Hija Sport Club
Tubas Sports Club
‘Aqqaba Sport Club
Tammun Sport Club
Tayasir Sport Club
Ebal Sport Club
Balata Youth Center
Ahli-Balata Sport Club
Asira ash-Shamaliya Sport Club
Asira Al-Qibleya Sport Club
Sarra Youth Club
Beit Furik Sport Club
Qusra Club Association
Youth Center No.1
Beita Sport Club
Al Madina Club- Nablus
Nablus Youth Club
Qaryout Club
Al-Sawya Club
Deir-Sharaf Sport Club
Hittin Sport Club
Sport Association Club
Jurish Sport Club
Samaritan Community Club
Madama Sport Club
Askar Youth Center
Til Sport Club
Azmout Sports Club
Deir Al-Hatab Sports Club
Bazarya Sport Club
Duma Sport Club
Salim Sport Club
Workers Club- Nablus 
Oref Sport Club
Aqraba Sport Club
Qusen Sport Club
Al-Awda Club for Persons with Disabilities
Burqa Sport Club
Burin Sport Club
Jabal Al-Nar Sport Club
Central Valley Sport Club
Al- Qastal Sports Club
Beit Dajan Sport Club
Yasid Sport Club
Osarin Sport Club
Jamma’in Sport Club
Talfit Sport Club
Beit Iba Youth Sport Club
Al-Ta’awon Club for Persons with Disabilities
Majdal Bani Fadil Club
Sama Nablus Sport Club
Huwara Sport Club
Al-Musatqbal Club for People with Physical Disabilities
Zawata Sports Club
Yatma Sports Club
Wadi al-Nis Sport Club
Al-khader Sport Club
Ibdaa' Sports Club
Al Doha Sports Club
Arab Orthodox Cultural Club- Beit Sahour
Battir Sports Club
Al Malha Sports Club
Beit Jala Orthodox Sports Club
Minya Sports Club
Bethlehem Sports Club for the Disabled
Nahalin Sports Club
Islami Bethlehem Sports Club
Teqoa Sports Club
Beit Sahour Women 
Za'tara Youth Club
Ta'amra Youth Sports Club
Salah Al Din Sports Club
Catholic Action - Bethlehem‎
Wadi Rahal Youth Sports Club
Ubeidiya Sports Club
Al Walaja Youth Sports Club
Wadi Al-Akhdar Sports Club
Husan Sport Club
Marah Mu'alla Sports Club
Beit Fajar Youth Sports Club
Bethlahem Orthodox Club
The Syriac Club
The Capital of Birth Sport Club
Marah Rabah Sports Club
Abu Njiem Sports Club
Aida Camp Youth Club
Al Dheisha Youth Club
Salesian Club
Jannatah Sports Club
Al Awda Youth Sports Club
Jab'a Sports Club
Halhul Sports Club
alShuyukh Youth Club
Ahli Hebron Sports Club
ad-Dhahiriya Youth Club
Yatta Youth Sport Club
as-Samu Youth Club
Tareq Ben Ziyad Sports Club
Islamic Youth Club
Beit Ummar Youth Sport Club
Al-Karmel Yatta
Bani Na’im Youth Club
Taffouh Sport Club
Al Aroub Youth Club
Al -Fawar Youth Center
Tarqumiyah Youth Club
Al-Ramadin Youth Sports Club
Surif Youth Club
Kharas Youth Sports Club
Nuba Youth Club
Si'ir Youth Club
Shabab El Bourj Sports Club
Palestine Club for Persons with Disabilities
Beit Ula Youth Club
Susya Youth Club
Rabud Youth Sports Club
Bayt Awa Youth Club
Bayt al-Rosh al-Fawqa Sports Club
Khalet al-Maiyya Sports Club
Khalil Rahman Equestrian Club
Isteqlal Yatta Sports Club
Hadb Youth Sports Club
Beit Kahil Youth slub
Masafer Yatta Sports Club
ِAhli Dura Club
Idhna Sports Club
Hebron Youth Club
Al-Am'ari Youth Center
Deir Ammar Youth Center
Al-Bireh Youth Association Club
Silwad Sports Club
Ramallah Orthodox Club
Sareyyet Ramallah Sports Club
Saffa Sports Club
Birzeit Sports Club
Beit Sira Sports Club
Kafr Ni'ma Youth Club
Budrus Sports Club
Ni'lin Sports Club
Kharbatha al-Misbah Sports Club
Beitunia Sports Club
Emm Safa Sports Club
Deir Abu Masha'al Sports Club
Baytin Sports Club
Sinjil Sports Club
Qibya Sports Club
Nabi Saleh Sports Club
Islami Ramallah Sports Club
Kafr Ein Sports Club
Ramallah Youth Sports Club
Al bireh cultural Sports Club
Dura el-Kari'a Sports Club
Dayr Qadis cultural Sports Club
Rantis Sports Club
Shuqba Sports Club
Al-Mazra'a ash-Sharqiya Sports Club
Abu Falah Sports Club
Aboud Sports Club
Mughayir Sports Club
Aroura Sports Club
Abwein Sports Club
Turmusayya Sports Club
Ras Karkar Sports Club
Al Majd Sports Club Persons with Disabilities
Deir Jarir Sports Club
Jifna Sports Club
Janiya Sports Club
Deir Ibzi' Youth Club
Bil'in Sports Club
Abu Shukhaydam Sports Club
Al Wihda Sports Club
Al Sharafa and Sateh Marhaba Sports Club
Burqa Youth Club
Irsal Sports Club
Deir Netham Youth Sport Club 
Ein Sinia Youth Sport Club
Qalandia Youth Club
Orthodox Ramallah Club (O.R.C)
Tarasnta Sport Club 
Orthodox Sports Club Betlahem
Orthodox Sports Club Beit Jala
De La Salle Sport Club- Bethlehem
Alukhowah Sports Club
Ahli Alquds Club
Al-Fara’a Youth Center
De La Salle Sport Club- Jerusalem 
Jenin Sports Club
Catholic Action - Bethlehem
Alghad Zawieh Club
Silwan Club
Beit Safafa Arabic Club
Good Shepherd Youth Club
Surrah Youth Sport Club
Beit Lid Club 
Salfit Club
Rummaneh Club 
Jerusalem Academy for Sports


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