Israeli inclusion in soccer matches is 'insult to Palestinian struggle' - PLO

The official condemnation from the PLO comes after a FIFA showcase match between a team of Arab soccer legends and a side managed by Israeli coach Avram Grant.

Jibril Rajoub takes part in a protest against Israel's plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, in Jericho June 27, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Jibril Rajoub takes part in a protest against Israel's plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, in Jericho June 27, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Soccer matches between clubs from Arab nations and Israel are a "serious and deep stab in the heart of every free Arab" and an "insult to the Palestinian struggle," the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Supreme Council for Youth and Sports said on Tuesday, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

In a message to Moroccan and Emirati soccer clubs, the PLO council's head, Jibril Rajoub, warned Arab teams not to "fall into the trap of a Nazi occupation" and shake hands "covered in the blood of Palestinian children."

The official condemnation from the PLO comes after a friendly showcase match organized by FIFA, as a team of Arab soccer legends battled a side of international legends. 

Controversy arose when three Algerian players, who were supposed to take part in the showcase match, boycotted it after discovering that Israeli soccer coach Avram Grant would coach the international side.

In addition, Syrian soccer player Firas Al-Khatib was expelled from the national team after he played in the showcase match.

 Israeli soccer coach Avram Grant (credit: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH) Israeli soccer coach Avram Grant (credit: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH)

Last week, a columnist for the PA-controlled Al-Hayat Al-Jadida protested the "stench of normalization that wafted from" Grant's inclusion in the match, who the columnist referred to as the "Zionist coach."

The wording in the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida column is eerily similar to the statement released by the PLO Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, headed by Rajoub, PMW found.

Rajoub is also head of the Palestine Olympic Committee and chairman of the Palestinian Football Association.

In October, Rajoub declined to meet with FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the latter's visit to Israel in October to participate in The Jerusalem Post 10th Annual Conference. the FIFA president's appearance at the Friedman Center's inaugural gala was viewed as a "violation of the Islamic religion" by the Palestinian Authority.

Rajoub also publicly encouraged Olympic athletes to boycott Israel and forfeit matches against Israelis during the Olympic Games in Tokyo which were held over the summer.