Thursday, August 12, 2004

Being an Arab football team in Israel

Despite Israel's cosmopolitan social composition, this BBC report claims that many in Israel did not take too well to the success of Sakhnin as it prepares to play in the UEFA Cup - the farthest that an Arab team has gone in Israeli history. Excerpts:

The Jewish state watched in surprise in May as Sakhnin won the Israeli cup.

Sharon Mashdi has kept a close eye on Israel's reaction. He monitors racism in Israeli football for the New Israel Fund.

The Arab team's victory, he says, went down particularly badly with fans of Betar Jerusalem, a team known for its ties to Israel's right wing.

"After the cup final the Betar Jerusalem fans put an ad on the Internet about the death of Israeli football," he says.

"I think it's like what's happened in Israeli society - some percentage of the Jews don't like Arabs at all and don't want them here in this country."

Such is the political climate right now that few in Israel want to go all that far in backing the Arab team.

Sakhnin does not have its own stadium. And it has found it tough to get sponsors.

"This is the biggest problem of Sakhnin," says Goren of Haaretz.

"Jewish companies don't sponsor Sakhnin. No-one from the Jewish business community said: 'Let's take Sakhnin and make it a symbol for peace, for living together'.

"Sakhnin has succeeded in a professional way, but in a social way it's been a failure."



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home