Rather than rejoice that the Saudi Arabian national team would play a historic soccer game against the Palestinian team on their home field, several Palestinian activists and groups lined up to oppose the match, calling it treason.
“This constitutes a direct recognition of the sovereignty of the Zionist entity,” said the Palestinian Popular Campaign Against Normalization while accusing both the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia of violating the Arab boycott of Israel.
This “contributes to covering up the reality of the situation in Palestine and creates a false image of the situation of sports under occupation.”
Several Palestinian activists launched an online campaign titled “Sports Normalization” and “Normalization is Treason.”
“The match is aimed at promoting Saudi policies in the region and paving the way for normalization with the Zionist entity,” the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said.
The match — to take place at the Faisal Husseini Stadium near Ramallah on Oct. 15 — is part of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers.
The Palestinian Football Association requested the match. Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association, said the Saudi decision was of “historic importance” and thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This “reflects the effort [by Saudi Arabia] in favor of Palestine and constitutes a message to the occupation that the Palestinians are not alone.”
Arab clubs and national teams traditionally have refused to play in the West Bank because they would have to apply for entry permits from Israel.