Orlando Pirates and AFC Bournemouth, Cancel "Friendly" Matches With Apartheid Israel Team in Spain

There’s nothing “friendly” about playing football with teams representing apartheid Israel. As Palestinians living under the violent and deadly brutality of Israeli oppression, we call on Orlando Pirates FC and AFC Bournemouth to cancel “friendly” matches with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Spain, July 13 and 16.

On June 22, Israel murdered yet another Palestinian footballer, Omar Qatin. The 24-year-old father of two was defending his neighbors in Turmus Ayya from one of the dozens of violent pogroms waged by armed Israeli settlers across the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Israeli soldiers shot him dead.

Mobs of armed Israeli settlers, incited by Israel’s far-right government, rampaged through Palestinian towns, terrorizing Palestinians and setting fire to Palestinian homes, businesses, property and crops.

The Israeli military fired on Palestinians attempting to defend their families, homes, and property.

Israeli “Security” Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on his government to kill “not one or two, but tens and hundreds, and if necessary even thousands” of Palestinians.

Israel has already killed at least 170 Palestinians just since the beginning of this year.

It is an escalation of violence but also part of Palestinians’ decades-long, day-to-day reality under Israeli oppression. Leading human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have found Israel guilty of the crime against humanity of apartheid.

There is no separating sports and Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

The Israel Football Association governs and works hand-in-hand with the Israeli government to maintain teams in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land. Israel’s settlements constitute a war crime under international law.

Meanwhile, armed Israeli soldiers regularly raid Palestinians football matches, even children’s matches, firing tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets onto the pitch.

It is also no surprise that football replicates the institutionalized racism promoted by the Israeli government. Tel Aviv Maccabi fans, for example, are known for racist anti-Palestinian slurs and graffiti and anti-refugee banners. “They just hate Arabs,” said a veteran player for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Accepting to play exhibition matches with teams representing Israeli apartheid sportswashes Israel’s racism, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

We call on Orlando Pirates FC and AFC Bournemouth to cancel the “friendly” matches with apartheid Israel. We urge any other team considering such a match to refuse to sportswash Israeli apartheid.

There is no place in football for racism. There is nothing “friendly” about gunning down young footballers.


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