Last year, the team won the AFC Challenge Cup, which qualified them for the 16-team Asian Cup in Australia.
In Gaza City on Monday, hundreds of fans and supporters assembled to watch the game and celebrate the accomplishment. It was difficult for the team to even find places to practice, as a result of the tight restrictions placed on Palestinians both at home and abroad, and these territories have been disregarded by many international organizations as a result of pressure from western nations and Israel, so this truly was an incredible accomplishment.
The Palestinian team lost the match, but most of the fans didn’t seem to care.
“Regardless of the result, we are very proud of our team, our players, who are flying the flag of Palestine in such international contests. Today we do not have the capability and the resources to compete but one day we will gain the way and the talent to win contests,” Ali Abu Khalil, a high school student, told Reuters.
“We have lost to Japan, the strongest team in Asia and one of the world’s best soccer teams, therefore we can’t blame our brave players. Our participation was not only of sport nature, it has also a political nature. The playing of the national anthem of Palestine and flying of the Palestinian flag is a source of pride for every Palestinian,” Abdel-Salam Haniyeh, member of the Palestinian Higher Council of Youth and Sports told Reuters.
Next the Palestinian soccer team will be in Melbourne for a match against Jordan.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.