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FC Barcelona-Beitar Jerusalem Game Cancelled Following Palestinian Protests – OpEd

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The owner of a controversial Israeli team, Beitar Jerusalem, has decided to call off a football friendly with the international team, FC Barcelona. The decision by Moshe Hogeg followed a demand by the Spanish Catalan club that the match be held outside the occupied city of Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem is recognized as a Palestinian city under international law. It was militarily occupied by Israel in June 1967 and was later annexed by the Israeli government. With a few exceptions, the international community doesn’t recognize Israel’s military occupation and annexation of the city. Israel insists that Jerusalem is its ‘eternal and undivided capital.’

Palestinians have called on Barcelona to cancel its game, especially as it was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem and against a team which is known for its anti-Palestinian racist chants. Beitar Jerusalem is the only Israeli team that has never signed an Arab player to its squad.

Earlier in July, the Palestinian Football Association sent a letter of protest to Barcelona over the planned game in Jerusalem. More Palestinian voices joined in.

“Sami Abou Shehadeh, a Balad party lawmaker in the Israeli parliament, had also petitioned Barcelona to cancel the game,” the Associated Press reported.

The Israeli club “represents the most extremist, racist and fascist segments of Israeli society,” Shehadeh wrote.

Many Palestinian football clubs added their voices, requesting that Barcelona refrain from validating the Israeli claims over the city.

“The decision by FC Barcelona is the correct decision, of course,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud said. “However, the decision should not be confined to occupied Jerusalem, as any validation of Israeli apartheid should be a red line that cannot be crossed,” he added.

“Sports and politics are clearly linked, and Hogeg knows this well. This is why he canceled the game. But in all honesty, the game should have never been scheduled in the first place, and the cancelation should have been prompted by FC Barcelona not Beitar,” Baroud said.

“The Israeli occupation and apartheid will never end without a strong moral showing by the international community in all of its manifestations, including sports clubs. Hopefully, Barcelona and others will continue to refrain from engaging apartheid in the future as well.”

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Palestine Chronicle

The Palestine Chronicle publishes news and commentary related to the Middle East Peace Conflict.

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