Palestinian Football Association welcomes Barcelona decision to “respect Palestinian rights” by not playing against Israeli team in Jerusalem

The note from the Palestinian Football Association to Barcelona President Joan Laporta said it “welcomed the decision (…) to respect our rights”.

Barcelona were previously set to play Beitar, the Israeli soccer team [Visionhaus/Getty]

The Palestinian Football Association has praised Barcelona after the Spanish club turned down a friendly match in Jerusalem against an Israeli team whose supporters are known for their anti-Palestinian chants.

Beitar Jerusalem Football Club revealed on Thursday that its game against the Spanish football giant on August 4 will not take place after Barcelona complained about the match being played in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) had sent a message of appreciation to politician and Barcelona president Joan Laporta, PFA chief Jibil Rajoub, supporting his team’s decision not to play in Jerusalem, a city that Israel claims as its capital. East Jerusalem is considered the capital of a future Palestinian state and is illegally occupied by Israel under international law.

The PFA said: “The Palestinian Football Association welcomes Barcelona’s decision to respect our rights and the rights of millions of grateful fans.”

Although the Barcelona team will not play in Jerusalem this year, Laporta traveled to Israel to start “Barça The Exhibition” in Holon, where he met Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

There will also be a Barcelona v Real Madrid “Legends Clásico” match in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, which will feature former stars from both Spanish footballing powers.

Beitar, the Israeli team due to play in Barcelona next month, are the only major Israeli football club to never hire a player of Palestinian or Arab descent. His fans are used to singing racist songs.

Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg ended the game after Barcelona refused to play in Jerusalem, saying he would not give in to “political” demands.

He called Jerusalem “the capital” of Israel and declared “that above all [he is] a proud Jew and Israeli “.

In 2013, Barcelona visited Israel and Palestine as part of a so-called “Peace Tower”, which reportedly faced backlash.

About Betty J. Snyder

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