Local Soccer: Palestinians oppose peace match

Palestinian Football Association chief says atmosphere in region not appropriate for holding friendly match with Barcelona.

Jibril Rajoub plays soccer (photo credit: courtesty)
Jibril Rajoub plays soccer
(photo credit: courtesty)
Palestinian Football Association chief, Jibril Rajoub, said on Monday that the atmosphere in the region is not appropriate for holding the friendly match between Barcelona and a mixed team of Israelis and Palestinians planned for July 31.
President Shimon Peres and the president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, announced last Thursday a plan to hold a special match for peace at National Stadium in Ramat Gan involving the Spanish powerhouse and Israeli and Palestinian players.
However, Rajoub poured cold water on the idea after meeting Rosell in Ramallah last Friday and said on Monday that the decision to hold the match was made by the Peres Center for Peace without consulting the Palestinians.
“This is a good and amazing idea which I love. I really think that sports and soccer can be used to build trust and create peace,” Rajoub told Israeli radio station 102FM. “However, the decision was made without consulting us. They think that it is our obligation to do what the masters of the region demand. I heard about the idea from the Peres Center after they had already arranged it all.”
Rajoub also complained that the Israeli authorities have withheld the entrance of a FIFA expert to the West Bank for the last few days and that four Palestinian national team players are not being allowed to travel from Gaza to Ramallah.
“One match is not going to solve the problems between the Palestinians and Israelis,” Rajoub added. “The current atmosphere is not appropriate for a match like this. I disagree with the behavior of the Israelis and the Barcelona president.”