A Clear Case of Off-Side In June, Israel come to Dublin to play against the Republic as part of a European group World Cup qualifiers. As much as we might seek to escape via football, football does not escape the realities of the world. Israel is a state where racism exists and is rife. We can send a message of solidarity and support to the people of Palestine on that Saturday in June Marx said that religion was the opium of the people but sport has eclipsed man's fascination with the supernatural. Football is the heroin of sport. I can remember the first time I stood with my father on a terrace and watched men chase a bag of wind around a field. I still can be found standing on those steps in all sorts of weather.
In June, Israel come to Dublin to play against the Republic as part of a European group World Cup qualifiers. You know this already! What you probably don't know is that the man who scored the equaliser for Israel in Tel Aviv is called Abus Suan, and he is subjected to racism in his homeland because he is an Israeli Arab. He plays for a team called Bnei Sakhnin, in the town of Sakhnin. This team is unusual as they have 12 Arab, seven Jewish and four foreign players and a Palestinian president. They play their games 19 miles from their town, and when they show up to other games they are subjected to chants like “death to Arabs”.
As much as we might seek to escape via football, football does not escape the realities of the world. Israel is a state where racism exists and is rife. Barriers are not broken down in this place, in fact it's busily erecting a wall around the Palestinian community there. The wall is being built with the help of the Irish Company - Cement Roadstone.
Football is supposed to be about breaking barriers down. We can send a message of solidarity and support to the people of Palestine on that Saturday in June. We can let the Israelis know that we don't have any truck with their systematic killing, torture, and oppression of the Palestinian people. We should let them know we are against the criminalisation of young people who refuse to serve in the executors of this oppression, the national army. We do not tolerate racism in our football grounds around the country, we should certainly not tolerate the inhuman attitude of the Israeli state towards Arabs.
While the football team of Israel is attempting to qualify for the world cup in the European qualifiers, Palestine compete in the Asian qualifiers. They have no stadium, very little money, and the players from Gaza are frequently prevented from travelling by the Israeli authorities. They were not allowed attend a training camps in either Egypt or Hungary, despite protestations from FIFA. When they make it to the playing field it is an achievement in itself. As the General Secretary of the Palestinian FA says "It is amazing to see the colours [of our flag] outside our land... It is also a great challenge for the Israelis and their checkpoints. We are saying, 'We are here, we can reach Spain, Chile, the whole world.”
This article was originally to be published in Workers Solidarity 86 but production delays mean it will not appear until after the match. http://struggle.ws/wsm
* WSM is an Irish anarchist organization